Sunday, September 19, 1999

Fakes a real concern for New Cath's Simon

        BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — A.J. Simon is arguably Kentucky's most unsung player, a senior fullback who has totaled just six carries in his three-year career.

        That has been enough for the Newport Central Catholic grad to develop an unusual specialty: fake punts.

        “There's a lot of other things I do — blocking, special teams, stuff like that — but the fake punts are really the only time I get the ball,” he said. “That's OK with me.”

        Simon converted a key fake punt Saturday in the third quarter of UK's 44-35 victory at Indiana, gaining 3 yards on fourth-and-3. That kept alive a drive that resulted in a field goal, and made Simon 4-for-4 in his career converting fake punts.

        A recap of the first three:

        • Two years ago, he completed a 21-yard pass for a first down against Florida. He's 1-for-1 passing in his career.

        • He ran 10 yards for a first down last year, again against Florida.

        • He ran 8 yards for a first down in the season opener two weeks ago against Louisville.

        Coach Hal Mumme lets Simon decide whether to try the fake, based on what he sees the defense doing.

        “He said, "Any time we can pull it off, let's do it,'” Simon said.

        Simon has played every game this year and the last two.

Neil Schmidt


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