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June 4, 2012

Simon excited to get started as a Black Knight

Army incoming athlete/quarterback Gervon Simon plays with a strong safety's aggressiveness. But his intensity isn't limited to football.

Take Simon's final baseball game of his junior year at Greater Johnstown (Penn.) High, for example. He was ejected for sliding into the catcher too hard on a play at the plate.

That kind of aggression is best appreciated by Pete Rose, who separated Ray Fosse's shoulder in one of baseball's most famous home plate collisions at the 1970 All-Star Game.

Likewise, Jake Gibbs, the retired New York Yankees catcher who was an All-American quarterback at Mississippi in 1960, would appreciate Simon's intensity.

But Simon plans to dial back the aggressiveness in his next football game -- but only his next game.

Simon, who is bound for the USMAPS, will be playing quarterback in the 42nd annual Ken Lantzy All-Star Classic on June 15 at Johnstown High's field. One of his teammates on the South squad will be fellow Army Class of 2012 recruit Stefan Moreau, a 6-3, 235-pound defensive end from Armagh (Penn.) United.

Simon feels the hesitation about risking injury that confronts all Division I college football recruits for such summer all-star games, but it's outweighed byt his desire to play one last high school game before he gets down to business with his college career.

"The biggest thing for me is to have fun," Simon said. "I'll have three teammates from my high school on the team and Stefan Moreau. When it comes game time, I'm definitely going to pass first and not take off running. I will probably pass more and not pull it down and run -- unless I have a clear shot."

That's a pretty good scouting report for the North coach if he's a GoBlackKnights.com subscriber. But even if he has the pre-game report, Simon will probably still find a way to beat the defense.

As a senior he passed for 1,752 yards and 19 touchdowns and ran for 533 yards and nine touchdowns for the 9-2 Trojans.

He's a versatile athlete capable of playing other positions -- the type of athlete the Black Knights' coaching staff seeks -- but he was recruited with his first shot at quarterback.

"I'm coming in as a quarterback," Simon said. "If later they move me to another position, fine. I just want to get on the field. I'd rather be a No. 1 in the backfield or secondary than No. 3 quarterback. But if I'm No. 1 quarterback, I want to play quarterback."

He's also coming in as a bigger quarterback than the one Army recruited, thanks to quick results from the training program sent to him an other Army recruits by the coaching staff.

The 5-foot-11 Simon played last fall at 187 pounds, but he's up to 195 pounds entering the summer.

"I've been lifting and putting on weight," he said. "I've been doing the program the coaches gave me. I feel real good at 195."

He's also been running to condition himself for boot camp and the start of fall camp. That's a product of running track last spring to work on his speed.

He gave up his baseball career to run track, although his high school baseball coach felt his he had a future in baseball as a scholarship athlete. But he said his high school coach would tell recruiters he wanted to play college football and that dampened interest.

"I've played baseball all my life, but I like football better," said Simon, who was an outfielder. "My high school told me if I ever changed my mind, he could get scholarship interest in me."

But now his college football career is finally about to arrive.

"I'm ready to get after it," Simon said. "I'm real excited. I can't wait."


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