Before and After

By Sam Spiller
Arizona Daily Wildcat
September 5, 1996

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Before: shooting hoops After: catching footballs

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It could have been just another summer of pick-up baketball on the courts of Dallas for Wildcat Kelvin Eafon.

Instead, Eafon decided to give up his career and his scholarship in basketball to become a football player for head coach Dick Tomey. The decision was made after two years on the bench, watching the other UA guards consistently carry the team to the NCAA Tournament.

For a talented guard, Arizona is only a stopping-off point before a career in the NBA - just ask Steve Kerr, Khalid Reeves, Damon Stoudamire and Reggie Geary. But for a backup guard, it could be a lesson in frustration - and for Eafon, who was always cons idered to be built for football, it was only a matter of time.

The NCAA rules prevented him from playing football until he could be released from his basketball scholarship. After last year's disappointing loss to Kansas in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, the door flew wide open for Eafon to begin his Arizona football career.

"I think Kelvin is a good football player, and I think he'll be a good football player," Tomey said after the team's first scrimmage. "We're not quite sure yet where he's going to play, but I think he'll make a contribution and were really glad to have h im."

Eafon did not play in Arizona's 23-3 home win against Texas-El Paso on Saturday and is still trying to find a place to fit in on the team. He did receive significant time in the Wildcats' traditional preseason scrimmage, where he played cornerback on the second-team defense. He was also listed as the third-string runningback/fullback.

But even though he didn't play in the first game, Eafon said he was pleased about his progress so far.

"It's going real well," Eafon said. "I'm just going out and working hard. The coaches like me a lot."

The main knock on Eafon so far is his inexperience and the fact that he has been away from the game for so long. Tomey said he may not receive much playing time now, but he may eventually work his way into a position in which he can play. Eafon said he is willing to wait.

"Right now I'm just trying to help the team," Eafon said. "Whatever helps the team is what I want to do."

Even though his performance in the scrimmage was solid, Eafon said there is still room for improvement. He made a number of tackles and broke up a few pass attempts, but he also allowed a 39-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver James Romero from freshman quarterback Dan Lloyd.

"I did all right, but I think I could do almost 100 percent better," Eafon said. "Personally, I'm disappointed because I thought I should have made a few more plays, but I think I have something to build on."

The coaches were a bit more optimistic about his performance.

"This is the first football game, so to speak, that he has played in for three years, so I don't think that we can expect too much," Tomey said. "But I'm glad we have him."

The grass of Arizona Stadium is a far cry from the hardcourt of McKale Center, despite the fact that they are less than 300 yards from each other. When asked about how the football program compared to the basketball program, Eafon's immediate reply was th at he didn't want to talk about it. Later, however, he did.

"All of the them (the football and basketball players) are just guys who love to win and that's all I can say about that," Eafon said.

It seems ironic that Eafon would leave the crowded backcourt of the basketball team only to find himself competing for a spot in one of the best defensive secondaries in the nation. It's worse at tailback and fullback, where he's behind veterans Charles M yles and Scooter Sprotte and freshmen Dennis Northcutt and Leon Callen.

Tomey said he looks at Eafon as more of a project than an immediate solution at any position.

"He's back and forth," Tomey said.

"He's not in the immediate playing picture either way, so we're just trying to get him ready."

Despite his somewhat confusing situation, Eafon said he's looking forward to this season.

"Right now I'm ready to go," Eafon said.

"The team looks real good. It's all about the effort that everybody is putting in, and I think everybody's putting in a big effort, so hopefully that will turn into some 'W's."