'Tex' is his name, running is his game Towson's DeLeon making his moves

October 02, 1992|By Marc Bouchard | Marc Bouchard,Staff Writer

He has a tattoo of Donald Duck on his right shoulder blade. He lists Deion Sanders and Jim Thorpe as the only professional football players he admires. And his nickname has little to do with being from Texas.

Gabriel "Tex" DeLeon is not a typical high school junior, and he's not a typical high school football player.

A 5-foot-8, 168-pound running back and defensive back at Towson High, DeLeon has rushed for 752 yards on 65 carries and has scored four touchdowns this season. His 242 yards on a muddy field at Loch Raven last Friday marked his third straight 200-yard game.

DeLeon says he doesn't idolize any professional or college players, but admires Sanders and Thorpe for different reasons.

"I like Deion Sanders," DeLeon said. "He's cocky. I like to be cocky also.

"And I like Jim Thorpe. He was a great all-around player."

DeLeon speaks with Sanders-like confidence about running the ball in Towson's offensive scheme.

"I usually know in the huddle if I'm going to score," DeLeon said. "When [the coaches] call a certain play with my number on it, we know that we're going to bust one. I feel at any time, anybody on our team can score."

DeLeon attributes his offensive success to his experience as a defensive back.

"Once I get into the secondary, I don't think anybody can catch me," DeLeon said.

"I'm always waiting for the defensive back to cut back into the grain, because I know if that were me I would definitely cut back."

DeLeon's nickname comes from his fondness for author S.E. Hinton, whose novels about teen-age rebellion were read by his 8th grade class at Dumbarton Middle School when he moved to Towson from San Antonio.

"We were reading Hinton's book 'Tex' in school," DeLeon recalled, "and a friend started calling me Tex. Plus, [Hinton] is one of my favorite authors. I liked her even before they labeled me Tex."

DeLeon made an immediate impact at Towson, rushing for 701 yards on 41 carries and scoring nine touchdowns in his freshman year. In his sophomore season, after stand-out running backs Alex Galiani and Damon Conway had graduated, DeLeon led the Generals with 1,320 yards on 114 carries and 13 touchdowns.

"I figured when Galiani and Conway graduated I'd get the ball a lot more," DeLeon said.

"[Last year] they basically turned it over to me, but I didn't feel a lot of pressure. It was more privilege than pressure."

Generals coach Bob Davis was aware of DeLeon's ability from the beginning.

"We realized right away that he had instincts way ahead of our otherkids," Davis said. "He had a lot of experience. He had played a lot of football."

DeLeon benefited from Texas' youth football programs, which include Pop Warner leagues and school-sponsored play on the 7th and 8th grade levels.

"He knows what winning is all about, because they don't accept anything less down there [in Texas]," Davis said.

"When the chips are down and we need the yardage, he's the type of kid you go to."

L DeLeon would like to carry his success to the college level.

"Lately, I've been getting letters from colleges," DeLeon said. "I'd definitely like to play college football someplace. [Division] I, II or III, it doesn't matter. I just want to play ball.

"Most likely, I'll play defensive back [in college]," DeLeon said. "I'd love to play offense, but with my size I have to be reasonable."

But for now, DeLeon is content with his place among the area's leading rushers.

"I love Towson," DeLeon said.

"I've only been here for a few years, but I wouldn't give it up for anything. I like the coaches, the teachers, everybody. And all my friends are here."

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