August 1, 2008

Simone Taking Things Slow

Skyline High School's Gino Simone has been taking his recruiting in stride this summer, recovering from a broken thumb he suffered in a vehicle accident in June. While it dampened spirits among Spartan nation, the 6-foot-0, 176-pound prospect feels his injury benefited Skyline in the long run.

"At first everyone was pretty down on it, but I think it helped with getting the other receivers in the program more confidence. The more camps we went to and seven-on-seven tournaments we participated in - it gave our other guys the chance to play and gain some confidence," explained Simone. "Every once in awhile I'll tweak it a little bit, but nothing to hold me out. I'm going to be ready to go week one."

That should breathe a sigh of relief to Spartan fans, being that Skyline opens the season against Sheldon High School, the defending Oregon 6A state champions.

"I've just been trying to watch a lot of film on Sheldon, which we play week one down in Portland," explained Simone. "It's kind of been dubbed as the battle of state champions. They have some good athletes, so it should be a fun game."

Although the game has no bearing on Skyline's quest to repeat as state champions, Simone understands the outcome of the game can set the tone for the Spartans' entire season.

"You've got to feel that way. Our win against Bellevue in the first game of last year defined our season. Our defense came to play every game and you saw that, especially in the Bellevue game," said Simone. "It's a different state, a different atmosphere - we've never been in that type of situation. But we're really looking forward to it as I know they are. It should be a good time."

On the recruiting front, Simone said that Washington State continues to show the most interest, followed by Oregon State and Washington. Oregon and Cal have also showed increased attention lately.

"Washington State has been the one recruiting me the hardest," said Simone. "I talk to Coach [Jay] Locey over at Oregon State quite a bit. I also talk to Coach [Steve] Gervais just as much as Locey."

Although the Huskies have not showed Simone the most amount of attention, he understands that it's not necessary in his situation. In fact, Simone considers it a good thing that the Washington staff isn't hounding him left and right.

"With schools that are away from home, they have to come in and try to get you away from that school thats been near you all of your life. Where as Washington, with the location they have, have the ability to say you've been here before - we have some good things going on here, and if you want to be a part of it, come be a part of it," explained Simone. "It's almost a good thing to not over preach it. You can only say the same things over and over before it gets old.

It's no secret that Head Coach Tyrone Willingham and Co. must win this season if they wish to avoid the possibility of getting the boot. Simone acknowledged the effect of the situation on not only his recruitment, but the Huskies' recruiting efforts in general.

"Anybody who says that it's not on their mind is not being truthful. It's on the coaches minds too. They don't hide it - they say that if they don't win some games, they may not be there," explained Simone. "But they're confident in what they have and they feel like they're going to win some games. It's a tough situation to be in for the coaches and the kids that are being recruited."

If Washington can find success this season, the Huskies already have a few advantages in the recruitment of Simone. The first being proximity.

"The thing that's a big standout is how close to home it is," said Simone. "Just being able to go home for dinner a couple of nights out of the week, that's a good thing. A lot of guys I talk to say they get homesick at the beginning. That's definitely something U-Dub has going for it, is that it's so close to home."

The second - Running Backs Coach Steve Gervais. Gervais was hired in March after leading the Spartans to a 14-0 record and the 3A state championship last season.

"Coach Gerv is another thing. It's always been about playing for Gerv," expressed Simone. "It's disappointing not having Gerv here [at Skyline], but he's the best coach I've ever played for. Having the chance to play for Gerv, it's definitely something I'm going to look at. That's something that would be hard to pass up."

The third - Husky Stadium.

"You've gotta love that stadium, right on the water," exclaimed Simone. "They get it up every game, and they have huge attendance. With the remodel, it's just going to get bigger and louder."

The Huskies have a very talented, but very young group of receivers this season, so the chance for wideouts to come in and compete for playing time is there - something that certainly intrigues Simone.

"No coach is going to say you're going to come in and start, but they've told me I have a chance to come in and compete for some playing time really early," said Simone. "If there's an opportunity for me to play, I want to play. If you don't have to ride the bench for a year, that's a plus. If you don't get to play, it's disappointing, but it is what it is. If the coaches feel that redshirting is the right idea for me, I'll leave it up to them."

Simone stated he still does not have a favorite, nor a timetable for a decision.

"I'm just still kind of wait-and-see. I don't have a clear favorite. It's pretty much Oregon State, Washington, Washington State and Boise State. I'm going to wait it out and see where I feel most comfortable," explained Simone. "[Regarding a timetable] I'm not real sure. I go back-and-forth. Sometimes I want to make a commitment and get it over with, and sometimes I want to wait until the season is over and decide. I'm so back-and-forth on it, I can't give you a clear cut timetable."

Simone plans on attending the Huskies' Senior Day tomorrow.

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