Gaines was Vanderbilt's top tackier last season, with 119, 81 solo. At 6 feet, 233 pounds, he is one of the strongest players in the country for his size. Gaines can bench-press 420 pounds and squats an incredible 661 pounds. A phys-ed major, Gaines, whose brother Greg is the starting linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks, hasn't taken a week off from weight training in six years.
Gary Richard of Pitt will play in our secondary. A communications major with 4.5 speed, Richard, who hails from Denver, likes to read psychology books before going to bed. He is particularly interested in sports psychology. "I've learned about body language, and it helps me," says Richard. "Especially late in the game when receivers are tired, they give off nonverbal clues. If they come out of the huddle slow and their mouthpiece is out, I look for the run. But if they're jumpy and edgy and they come out quick, it's probably going to be a pass."
San Diego State's Clarence Nunn, another of our defensive backs, is among the best in the country. He's a marketing major, and his hobbies include bass fishing and flying kites. "I'm still a kid at heart," he says. Nunn's cheerful nature was sorely tested last year when he failed the NCAA-administered drug test before the Holiday Bowl and was ineligible to play in the game. "Christmas night the athletic director told me I tested positive for methamphetamines. I asked, 'What's that?' He said, 'Speed.' I waited for him to laugh. Then I finally realized, 'You guys are serious.' "
Nunn had been using a Vick's nasal inhaler, which contains traceable amounts of methamphetamines, for flu.
"I've never used drugs of any sort," says Nunn, a member of the Campus Crusade for Christ. "But the NCAA's position was, 'We don't care how it got into your system.' It was devastating, to say the least. But it taught me something, too. I had been taking football for granted, and for the first time I realized how quickly it could be taken away. Now I'm working harder than ever."
Duke safety Mike Diminick rounds out the secondary. A 5'10," 180-pound junior, he was second on the Blue Devils in tackles last season with 103. Like Spellacy, Diminick is a member of Volunteers for Youth. A premed student, he has a GPA of 3.875. He is one of the two students on Duke's athletic council, an advisory board to the president.
We've left a few positions open, naturally. We're firm believers in walk-on candidates making good and give each and every one of them a long and equitable look. One thing's for certain: There are some darned good players out there nobody's ever heard of. We're particularly hopeful that a Romance language major from some small soccer-playing nation will suddenly appear to kick our field goals. It's a lovely thought, but no matter. If she doesn't, we'll still have a fine team.