Switched from defensive back, Smith catches on at Penn State

Former Howard High star is wide-out, kick returner



October 30, 2002|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Penn State sophomore wide receiver Gerald Smith could be jumping with joy these days.

The former Howard High standout is emerging as a trusted third member of the Nittany Lions' wide-out rotation, catching two passes for 25 yards Saturday against Ohio State in Columbus.

But the Nittany Lions not only lost that game, 13-7, to the Buckeyes, but also have been beaten twice in overtime this season in Big Ten games, falling to 2-3 in the league and 5-3 overall.

"Losing two overtime games in one season, what are the chances of that?" asked Smith, who held a conference call with the Penn State media yesterday. "Against Ohio State, we gave 110 percent, and it was pretty tough to lose. We had no rhythm in that game."

Smith, a first-team All-Metro selection in 1999, started out as a defensive back his freshman season at Penn State. But 15 plays into the season, he suffered a pinched nerve in his shoulder and was a medical redshirt for the 2000 season.

The Penn State coaching staff then decided to switch Smith to wide receiver the next season.

"They didn't know if my shoulder could take the pounding on defense anymore," said Smith. "I'm happy at wide-out. I played offense in high school, and we have a receivers coach [Kenny Carter] who has us moving the ball."

Smith said he is still "mesmerized" sometimes by the idea that he is playing for the legendary Joe Paterno.

Smith has also returned two kickoffs for 31 yards, two punts for 9 yards, and has made four tackles while playing on special teams.

As Smith has prospered recently, running his receptions total to five for 80 yards, teammate Bryant Johnson (City College) has been slowed by double coverages.

"Bryant has not been neglected," said Smith. "Sometimes, the quarterback [Zack Mills from Urbana in Frederick County] just is making different reads because of the coverages."

Johnson has a team-leading 37 catches for 672 yards and three touchdowns, and he paces the team in punt returns with 26 for 280 yards.

A third Baltimore-area player, sophomore outside linebacker, T.C. Cosby (McDonogh), is making an impact for No. 20 Penn State.

Cosby has six tackles, including one for a loss of 4 yards, and he has played in all eight games.

Jack lifts Lynchburg

Linda Jack enjoyed one of her finest field hockey hours for Lynchburg College Sunday, scoring the winning goal in the second overtime to lift the Hornets to a 2-1 victory over Johns Hopkins.

Jack, a senior attack from South River, intercepted a pass and slammed a shot that was deflected into the goal with 3:19 left in the second overtime.

It was Jack's second goal of the game.

Jack has led Lynchburg to a 14-2 record this season, scoring 17 goals and contributing five assists. Four of the goals have been game-winners.

Mobley is co-captain

Senior midfielder Anne Mobley (Loch Raven) has been the co-captain and steadying influence on the Emory University women's soccer team which is ranked No. 15 among Division III schools.

Mobley has two assists for the Eagles (11-3-1), who were eliminated last weekend from the University Athletic Association playoffs despite a 4-2 conference record.

Freshman sensation

Freshman forward Jeff Kocher (C. Milton Wright) has been on a season-long scoring tear for the Lycoming College men's soccer team, easily leading the team with seven goals and seven assists.

Sophomore midfielder Brad Martin (Broadneck) has one goal and five assists, and freshman midfielder Phil Kratochvil (C. Milton Wright) has one goal. Freshman defender Mike Ward (Loyola) has started nine games for the Warriors, who are 5-9-2 overall and 0-5 in the Middle Atlantic Conference.

Lycoming is coached by Scott Kennell, who was a standout at Perry Hall.

Costa rolls

Leanne Costa (Dulaney) has been a force through 28 volleyball matches this season for Lynchburg (15-13).

Costa, a junior outside hitter, is second on the team in kills (249) and in digs (234) and fifth in hitting percentage (.221).

Lynchburg is 4-6 in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

Have a Postcard? Contact Bill Free by e-mail at bfree706@hotmail.com or by phone at 410-833-5349.

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