Cards, Dons kicking off for 79th time This morning's game brings back memories of Smoot's 'hit' last year

November 26, 1998|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

To those who witnessed the hit in last year's Calvert Hall-Loyola game, particularly Dons' coach Joe Brune, linebacker Greg Smoot's bone-rattling power was nothing short of bone-chilling.

Smoot exploded into oncoming Loyola quarterback Brant Hall near the Dons' sideline a year ago today, the collision's force sending Hall's helmet hurtling skyward and body smashing into the turf.

"It happened right in front of me. I remember how bad Brant looked when he got up," Brune said.

Hall, now at Lehigh University, got up to score his seventh rushing touchdown of the season and throw for his 10th touchdown on 222 yards as the Dons whipped the Cardinals for the ninth straight time, 19-7. He was All-Metro Offensive Player of the Year.

"Brant got up, but if it were anyone else but Brant, [he] might not have," Brune said. "Greg's a clean hitter but with an intimidating style, and I don't want him hitting our quarterback the way he hit Brant."

At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, there's no question Smoot has big-time potential.

The Edgewood native clocked a 4.7-second 40-yard dash at a summer combine at Penn State, which, in addition to his savvy and quickness to the ball, prompted Nittany Lions' defensive-end coach Larry Johnson to offer him a full scholarship on the spot.

"We sat down in Joe Paterno's office, and he [Paterno] said to Greg, 'I heard you're pretty good,'" said his father, also named Greg.

"Larry Johnson said all eight of their coaches were impressed," said the elder Smoot, a former football and baseball player at Mervo. "He said [the scholarship] would be a full ride. They put Greg at tight end, and the receivers coach said he's definitely a Division I player."

With a 920 SAT score, Smoot has attracted interest from other TTC colleges, including Lehigh, Marshall, Boston College, Northeastern, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest, Illinois, Richmond, James Madison, Mississippi and Mississippi State.

"I think Greg Smoot's one of two best defensive players we faced," the other being Landon linebacker Will MacDonald, said Gilman coach Biff Poggi. "Smoot's got very good range, and he really explodes through the ball carrier."

His 130 tackles entering today's 79th meeting with Loyola (5-4) at 10 a.m. at Ravens stadium include seven sacks, and he also has recovered two fumbles. Coach Lou Eckerl of Calvert Hall (5-4) has used Smoot as a running back, too, and he has eight touchdowns.

But Smoot's power isn't limited to the football field.

"I've seen a lot of guys hit home runs," said baseball coach Joe Binder, "but Greg Smoot is the only guy whose power truly frightens me."

"During batting practice," Binder said, "Greg's bouncing balls off walls or buildings. You think about stopping the drill for fear of someone being hurt."

But Smoot's daily mannerisms belie the stories. "I laugh about those things, but I did break two car windows," said Smoot, a transfer from Joppatowne who bench presses 315 pounds.

"I feel honored that people feel I'm pretty good. I've learned a lot from every coach. I wouldn't be where I'm at if not for them," Smoot said.

Binder said of Smoot: "[His] potential is untapped. I don't think anyone's really seen it yet."

And Joe Brune doesn't want to see it today.

Pub Date: 11/26/98

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