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May 17, 2005MANHATTAN, Kan. - Speed kills.
And no team in the country may have a faster duo of players than St. Louis University's Paul Chaney and Stephen Simmons.
The 5-foot-9, 160 pound Chaney currently leads the state of Missouri in the 100 (10.1), 200 (21.1) and 400 (48.0) meter dashes, and the 5-foot-7, 175 pound Simmons is not far behind him with a time of 10.3 seconds in the 100.
With track times like these, University head coach Gary Kornfeld knew that several Division I football programs would be looking at Chaney and Simmons even harder after how they performed at the Kansas State NIKE Training Camp in Manhattan last Saturday.
"Certain players can go to camps like the NIKE Camp and really open up some eyes just based on how they perform," Kornfeld said. "I knew that if they both went to that camp and performed like they'd been running this track season, their names would really move up the charts of college recruiters.
"You just don't see speed like those guys have very often. I've seen a lot of fast players in my coaching years, but nothing like what Paul and Stephen have."
To no surprise, Kornfeld's prediction was correct on both of his players. He said Simmons already has an offer from Indiana, and several schools have just started to come in hard on Chaney after seeing what he did at the NIKE camp.
"We always have a lot of coaches stop by here in May," Kornfeld said. "Both Gary Pinkel and Ron Zook have already been by. We get most of the Big 10 schools here and a lot of the Big 12 schools as well."
Kornfeld said most schools were originally looking at Chaney as a track athlete, but his performance in Manhattan may have changed that.
When Saturday's NIKE camp ended, Chaney was considered the top prospect in the entire camp by several of the coaches in attendance.
"I think I really opened up some eyes during the one-on-one portion of the camp," Chaney said. "In seven reps, I had two interceptions and two pass break-ups.
"The offense only made one catch on me during those seven plays, and I actually was right there to make the play. I also tested really well on Saturday and ran a 4.37 second 40 yard dash."
The most attention for Chaney appears to be coming from Indiana. The Hoosiers have already offered Simmons, and Kornfeld said it wouldn't surprise him to see IU follow up with an offer to Chaney as well.
The early criteria Chaney is looking for from a school is staying close to home. He said Indiana, Notre Dame, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas State, Illinois and Nebraska are all schools he'd like to check out.
"I like Indiana and Notre Dame both right now," Chaney said. "Really the only thing that matters to me is staying somewhat close to St. Louis.
"This summer I'll probably go to a few one day camps, but I haven't decided which ones I'll hit up."
As a junior, Chaney didn't necessarily put up huge numbers on the football field, but a lot of that had to do with the fact teams didn't throw to his side of the field.
He finished the year with 31 solo tackles, 15 assists, one sack and one fumble recovery. On offense, he had nice catches for 238 yards and three touchdowns.
"I'm known as probably the top lock down corner in St. Louis," Chaney said. "I very rarely see balls thrown my way because of that."
Kornfeld said one play that really sticks out about Chaney came in a rivalry game against Christian Brothers College.
The score was tied late in the fourth quarter, and Chaney caught a short pass and took 65 yards to win the game.
"He just made a play with his speed in a key moment," Kornfeld said. "If he gets by that first wave of guys there's nobody in this country that's going to catch him with speed like he has."
The other impressive thing about both Simmons and Chaney is this season will be their third year as starters for SLU.
Kornfeld said very rarely do you see players come through this area as three year starters at the varsity level.
"Paul and Stephen are both just great kids that don't get into any kind of trouble," Kornfeld said. "They carry themselves in a very mature manner.
"I think by the end of the summer they should both have a good amount of offers in their hands. I know a lot of coaches are really showing interest in them at this point."