Towson is getting kicks from Perdikakis Fifth-year senior makes up for lost time

College football preview

September 03, 1997|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Look out, Columbia and Penn.

Towson University has a 6-foot-2, 238-pound kicking specialist named George Perdikakis who has slimmed down from 250 pounds.

4 Just imagine how big the Towson linemen must be.

For certain, Perdikakis is an unlikely football kicking star for the Tigers.

A fifth-year senior, he was groomed to be a soccer player by his father, never played any kind of football until his senior year at Loyola High, only kicked one field goal in high school and grew up kicking only Nerf footballs in his Hamilton neighborhood backyard in Baltimore.

His father, also George, still cringes a little every time his son steps on the football field and seems to take comfort in being the first one to arrive for games and one of the last to leave.

"My parents are from Greece, and all they know is soccer and basketball," said Perdikakis, who has never played one down at any other position than kicker. "They don't know what football is all about. I have never really talked that much to my dad about me playing football, and he hasn't said much, but I can tell he isn't all that wild about it."

So just why did the young Perdikakis wander over to the Loyola football field his senior year and take up the game at the same time he was playing on the soccer team?

"Football is more of a team game where everybody has to pull together to be successful," he said. "In high school, I was always able to go to soccer practice, then go over and kick field goals and make all the games for both teams. There was never a conflict."

He is believed to be the only athlete in Loyola school history to play two sports in the same season.

Perdikakis was a bruising defender in soccer for the Dons, but was asked to attempt only one field goal in high school, and he made it -- a 43-yarder in a 14-11 loss to unbeaten City College in 1992. He also kicked extra points, kicked off and punted for Loyola.

"I never missed anything [kicks] in high school," Perdikakis said. "But I really didn't know what I was doing when it was time for college. I have to thank Coach [Gordy] Combs for taking a chance on me. He took a chance on a guy who only played nine games in high school."

Perdikakis became the first Towson kicker to make every extra point in one season (28 of 28) last year, starts his senior year with a school-record 42 straight extra points made, is challenging NFL punter Sean Landeta for third place on the all-time Towson scoring list among kickers and needs three extra points this season to break the school career record of 96 held by Jerome Nolan.

Landeta (148 points) leads Perdikakis (136) by 12 points.

"It's an honor to be mentioned with Sean," he said. "But I try not to think too much about passing him in scoring."

Combs said Towson gambled on Perdikakis because "we all saw potential in him. Being a soccer player, we knew he could do the distance, and we had a year to develop him because we had an experienced senior kicker in Buddy Dunn in 1993. We had to work on George's mechanics, and now I'd say consistency is his strong point."

Perdikakis, who was a redshirt his first year at Towson, said he had to learn how to relax and keep his head down to make it at the collegiate level.

And what do his teammates say about such a big guy's not having to hit anybody on a regular basis?

"I hear it all the time," he said. "They say I don't know what it's like to go through a tough practice. But I give it right back to them. I tell them to do their job and I'll do mine. I practice my kicking, and then I run gassers with them after every practice."

As the Tigers head into their first season against a tough Patriot League schedule with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs for the league champion, Perdikakis said the team has changed a lot since last year.

"When the chips were down last year [6-4 record against I-AA independent competition], guys yelled at each other," he said. "This year, we're picking each other up. The 13 of us seniors on the team realize this is our last hurrah, and we don't want to have any regrets."

About the series

The Sun continues its look at the state's Division I college football teams. Coming:

Tomorrow: Navy

Friday: Maryland

Pub Date: 9/03/97

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