Simon proves good catch for Terps

October 01, 1994|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Staff Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- The sure hands.

The swift legs.

Is it any wonder Geroy Simon caught up in a hurry?

Simon is the most productive receiver in the Atlantic Coast Conference, but he was a frazzled 17-year-old when he arrived at Maryland in August 1993. Academic shortcomings were supposed to delay his entry into Division I-A football, but several good turns allowed him to be one of the last to sign with the Terps. Then he was overwhelmed by terminology and tactics.

"I came here because I didn't have anyplace else to go," Simon said. "There were times when I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing last year, but this couldn't have turned out any better for me."

Maryland concurs. Amid a quarterback controversy, a strengthened running game and a defense that is finally approaching respectability, Simon has been overlooked in the Terps' two-game winning streak, which they hope to extend this afternoon at Clemson.

A 6-foot-1, 175-pound true sophomore, Simon leads the ACC in receptions (27) and receiving yards (390) and is seventh in the nation in receptions per game (6.7). He caught touchdown passes in the Terps' first three games, and his 11 catches at West Virginia set a Mountaineer Field record.

The G-Man was the leading receiver even before deep threat Jermaine Lewis went out with a dislocated shoulder, and his emergence has been vital.

A year ago, Lewis, Russ Weaver and Andrew Carter combined for 162 catches, but Carter lost his inside receiver position to Simon in spring practice, was switched to defensive back and ended up transferring to Howard University. Combined, Lewis and Weaver have 25 catches, two fewer than Simon.

"It's not that the other guys are getting any more attention from the opposition," coach Mark Duffner said. "Geroy's been the most open."

Simon's options were narrowed during his senior year at Johnstown (Pa.) High. He excelled in three sports, but few big-time programs recruited him because it didn't appear he would meet NCAA requirements for freshman eligibility.

He had track and field bests of 10.65 seconds in the 100 meters and 6 feet, 7 inches in the high jump, and he averaged 15 points as a shooting guard on the school's best basketball team ever.

Football was Simon's favorite, however, and the sport he planned to play at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, with the hope that he would land at Maryland or Pitt. Then Simon's advancement to Division I-A football was accelerated.

* In spring 1993, he met the NCAA requirement for freshman eligibility on the Scholastic Assessment Test.

* Though he missed a good portion of his last track season on academic probation, Simon graduated with a cumulative grade-point average good enough for the NCAA.

* When a lineman couldn't play in the Big 33 all-star game against Ohio, Simon was chosen to replace him.

"I played in the Big 33 game on a Saturday," Simon said. "Coach [Dan] Dorazio called the next Wednesday offering a scholarship, and I was here the following Sunday."

Simon, one of the best all-around athletes on campus, admits he got by on physical talent last season. He made his collegiate debut on his 18th birthday, catching a pass at North Carolina. He had nine receptions at North Carolina State, and 19 for the season.

"It's easy to forget that he was only 18 when we opened this season," said assistant coach Vincent White. "Look at film from last year, and you can see he's more comfortable now; he understands what he has to do. He's able to do things freely, without thinking about them."

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