July 4, 2012

Record-setting father spurs Simon to Army

Canadian Football League wide receiver Geroy Simon is most likely the only pro football player setting a career record this year with a son about to start his college football career.

And to narrow it down even more, his son Gervon Simon is a member of Army's 2012 recruiting class. Try naming another pro football record setter with a son tackling the challenge of a college football at a service academy.

"I'm really excited for him," said Geroy, who is playing his 14th CFL season with the BC Lions in Vancouver, British Columbia. "I think it's a great opportunity for him to go to West Point not only on the football side but the career side."

Gervon, a quarterback/athlete from Greater Johnstown (Penn.) High who will start his Army career at the USMA Prep School, and the rest of the 2012 recruiting class reported earlier this week for Beast Barricks. But Gervon had time for a quick trip to Vancouver to see his father break the CFL record in the Lions' June 29 season opener. The defending Grey Cup champions defeated Winnipeg 33-16.

Geroy entered the game needing 67 yards to break the CFL career receiving yardage record and broke it in style with a 56-yarder. He finished the night with five passes for 105 yards for a total of 15,192.

The league honored Simon on the field as he posed for a photo with his father, also named Geroy, and Gervon.

"That was a great moment," Simon said. "My family traveled 3,000 miles to see me break the record. It was a great feeling to share it with my teammates, the organization and my family."

Geroy, 36, enjoyed a successful college career at Maryland, where he finished his playing days second on the Terrapins' all-time receptions list. He was fortunate to launch a long pro career -- he hopes to play another year or two after the 2012 season -- but he remembers the uncertainty that faced him, his teammates and most college athletes upon finishing their college career.

He likes that his son won't face so many unanswered questions when he graduates from West Point.
 
"As an athlete, we struggle with what we're going to do after we're done playing," Simon said. "We're always trying to figure out what we're going to do. He's going to have a chance to play major college football and then West Point helps you with your career after graduation and his military commitment. He will have a network set up. You basically get cherry picked because you went to a prestigious university, you played football or you were involved in other activities."

Similar to many parents, Simon said he was concerned about his son embarking upon a military commitment when he first learned Army was recruiting Gervon and that he was interested. But Geroy did a 180 when he visited West Point with his son. He left telling his Gervon he wished he'd have considered such an opportunity coming out of high school.

"The school does a great job of educating parents on what West Point is all about and the opportunity it provides your son or daughter," Simon said. "That bigger picture is more exciting to me than just the college football part."

Geroy said he was otherwise confident Gervon possesses the talent to play Division I football at Army and the discipline and work ethic required of a West Point cadet.

"Gervon has always been a good athlete," Geroy said. "He started wrestling when he was 5 or 6 and he was always disciplined about making and cutting weight. Once you have a child who is a good wrestler, that shows a level of discipline and a willingness to sacrifice to be a good athlete."

In addition to Gervon having his father as a role model, he has another relative who played in the NFL. Artrell Hawkins was a second-round draft pick as a defensive back in 1998 by the Cincinnati Bengals and played 10 NFL seasons. He's now the radio sports show co-host for Fox Sports Daybreak in Cincinnati.

"Artrell and I have tried to prep him on the things he's going to be going through," Geroy said of moving up a level in the athletic ladder. "He really works hard on and off the field and is good about watching film and things like that you need to be successful. I think the West Point coaches will do a great job with him."

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