NORMAN — Gary Simon in an Oklahoma jersey is a product of Mike Stoops returning to Norman.
The freshman defensive back picked OU over Arkansas and Iowa State after Stoops made a visit. Simon is one of four Sooners from Florida. A St. Petersburg native, he grew up in between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. He earned a name on the football field and basketball court at Gibbs High School, but, really, who is Gary Simon?
He's Mike-Stoops' type of defensive back. He's a 6-foot-2, 185-pound three-star cornerback who also stars in basketball. As a junior and senior, he led the team in scoring.
During his recruitment, Stoops saw Simon play hoops. The defensive coordinator came away calling the recruit the high school version of Vince Carter.
Besides being a kid whose shoes have to match his outfit, he's known as laid back and likes to be the best at everything he does. But his coaches also called him athletic, a competitor and a real talent.
ANTONIO KNOX, Gibbs High School football coach on Simon:
“He is a real competitive person when it comes to the football field, even in any sport. He can be really very talented in anything he can do. That's why I knew that he would be OK going up to Oklahoma and compete for a job right away because he's just athletic. He is really an NFL kid. That's what I looked at and I told him that all the time.”
On how coachable Simon is: “He's a 10. He listens. He really wants to be really good at what he does. … When he makes mistakes, he's going to come to you and tell you, ‘Hey I messed up, coach. I'm going to get it.' He makes up for it. He makes a lot of plays just off his athletic ability.”
On Simon performing in front of a large crowd: “Listen, the stage and all of that stuff — nah, you know, that stuff doesn't bother him at all. I mean, certain players have that ‘it' factor when it comes to dealing with stardom and just dealing with different things that deal with sports … to go and play in front of 90,000 people, that won't bother him.”
LARRY MURPHY, Gibbs High School Basketball Coach On his basketball talent: