Four former GMC players take their talent to Macon
By Keich Whicker – The Union-Recorder
MACON – As the sun sank behind the trees and football practice finally began to break up, three players – Jason Geter, Caleb Slover and Delanio Taylor – stopped their progress toward the SportsTowne athletic complex and spoke about what it was like to play arena football for the Macon Knights.
“This has been a great experience,” said Geter, who’s just begun his first season in Arena Football 2. “I look at every day as a blessing. So many people want to do this for a living and haven’t had a chance to.”
Taylor, who returns to football – albeit a different kind of football – after a two-year layoff, was also in high spirits.
“It’s been exciting,” he said. “I haven’t been playing for two years, so this has been overwhelming.”
After two seasons, Slover said he was finally settling down in the league and looking forward to the new season.
“I really struggled the first season I came in the league,” he said. “Last year I had much better numbers.”
This season won’t be the first time these three Knights strap on a helmet and play football together. All three of them played junior college football at Georgia Military College – Geter from 1999-2000, Slover and Taylor from 1998-99.
“Caleb (Slover) was my quarterback,” Taylor said, pointing at Slover.
Coming to Macon and rooming together felt like old times for these three Knights, and made starting with a new team easier.
“Knowing these guys made it a whole lot easier,” Taylor said. “I’m glad I came down here with somebody I knew.”
As they were speaking a few days before the Knights first game, Geter joked about his relief at finally being able to hit someone he wasn’t friends with.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff built up inside I’ve got unleash,” he said. “I can’t unleash it on my roommates, but I’ve got to do it to somebody.”
All three held similar opinions about the difference between playing outdoor football and the indoor variety.
“It’s the speed of the game and it’s the field that are the biggest difference,” Slover said. “A big part of this game for me is angles. You throw a pass outside one way, but you throw it inside completely differently.”
“The game moves so fast,” Geter agreed. “You’ve really got to be on your toes while you’re out there.”
The only veteran of Arena Football league 2 among the trio, Slover completed 244 of 409 passes for 3,474 yards and 75 touchdowns as a Greensboro Prowler last season. Good numbers, but ones he said he thinks he can improve on this season with the Knights.
“I’ve been working on anticipating when the receivers are going to break,” he said. “Learning where the DB (defensive back) is going to be and getting the ball off a step quicker. A big part of this year is the coach, he knows all the tricks of the trade. He’s a mastermind. Sometimes it’s scary.”
The Knights head coach Mike Hold, a veteran of 15 years in the arena league and before that a standout quarterback for the University of South Carolina in the mid-1980s, said a great deal of responsibility rested with his starting quarterback this season.
“Caleb’s (Slover) the starting quarterback,” he said. “We’re planning on him being able to create everything. Everything hangs on his shoulders. He’s going to get more credit than he deserves and more criticism than he deserves. That’s the nature of the job. But he’s a guy I’ve been after to sign since day one.”
A fourth former Bulldog, Cory Smith played at GMC from 1996-97.
Last season, Smith made the arena football league’s All-American Conference championship team.
Smith settled into playing arena football after failing to be selected in the NFL draft. A three-season veteran of the Knights, Smith remembered Slover from his GMC days before the quarterback arrived at the start of camp.
“Caleb’s a good guy,” he said. “He was a young quarterback at the time, but he was a great teammate.”
Smith agreed with Slover about the biggest difference between college football outdoors and professional football inside an arena.
“The 50-yard field is really the biggest difference,” he said. “The game is a lot faster and it’s a man’s league – you’ve got to be tough to play in it.”
Despite opening the 2004 season with an 0-2 start, Smith was positive heading into this weekend’s contest with the Manchester Wolves.
“Even though we’re 0-2, we still have the ability to make it to the ArenaCup (AF2’s championship game, which the Knights lost last season to the Tulsa Talons),” he said. “And if we get there, we’re going to win it.”
The Macon Knights take on the Manchester Wolves on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Macon Coliseum. For ticket information, call (478) 314-3000.
To reach sports writer Keich Whicker, call him at (478) 453-1465.
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