FULLERTON — Football and baseball coaches have marveled at the maturity of Cal State Fullerton's Phil Nevin, the Titans' kicker/punter in the fall and third baseman in the spring.
As a freshman, Nevin made 15 of 21 field-goal attempts and all 33 extra points for the football team and hit .358 with 14 home runs for the baseball team, all while handling the pressure and attention with a level-headedness that belied his age.
But the 19-year-old sophomore has grown up even more this summer. He is the father of a 2-month-old girl named Koral, a new responsibility that Nevin has handled as maturely as his athletic success.
The baby's mother is Rachel Hartung, a 19-year-old Palomar (San Diego) College student who Nevin was dating last fall. Hartung is the child's primary care-giver, but Nevin and his parents are providing financial support and further care.
Nevin says there are no immediate plans for marriage, but he and Rachel have remained good friends. They see each other at least once a week, and the Nevins have set up a nursery for the baby in their Placentia home.
"People make mistakes in life, and this is one," Nevin said. "I could have run from it--that would have been the easy way out--but it's my responsibility. This is how it should be done. It's how a man would do it, not some teen-age kid who will run from things."
Nevin was in Millington, Tenn., with Team USA when the baby was born, and for a month and a half, all he saw were pictures of Koral. But when Nevin was cut from the team and returned home in late July, the welcoming party at the airport included Rachel and Koral.
Nevin quickly became a doting father.
"I didn't even say hello to my parents for about 20 minutes," Nevin said. "It was pretty moving. After seeing her, you realize it's amazing how that happens. You don't realize that until you have a child of your own. The only thing I regret is not being there for the delivery."
Koral, though, will be there for Nevin this year.
"She'll be at all the home games, football and baseball," Nevin said.
In the running: Deon Thomas, who last spring was the undisputed heir to Mike Pringle's running back job, will apparently have some competition for the position this fall.
Barring any academic problems, Reggie Yarbrough, who rushed for 985 yards in 133 carries and scored 23 touchdowns to help Bakersfield College to an 11-0 record in 1988, will play for the Titans this year.
Yarbrough had signed with Arizona State after the 1988 season but was academically ineligible in 1989 because he had not earned an Associate of Arts degree, a requirement for community college transfers.
Titan Coach Gene Murphy said Yarbrough sat out last season and completed his degree requirements at Bakersfield. However, he won't begin practicing with Fullerton until his transcript has been evaluated and accepted.
"He has got great credentials as a running back," Murphy said. "His reputation alone should push Deon."
Another running back expected to push Thomas is community college transfer James Mullins, who is completing courses at Merced College and won't be able to practice until next week.
Mullins, who attended Havelock High School in North Carolina, rushed for 1,422 yards on 278 carries and scored 16 touchdowns last season at Merced. He was a JC Gridwire honorable-mention All-American selection.
Ice cream man: This is the nickname Titan football players have given offensive tackle John Cotti, who spent his summer working behind the counter of a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Burbank.
Being surrounded by 31 flavors may not seem conducive to healthy off-season training, but Cotti, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound redshirt freshman, reported for practice in shape and not a pound overweight.
"I don't even like ice cream," said Cotti, who has been dishing out double-scoops since his sophomore year at Burbank High School. "My teammates make fun of me, but I make good money there."
Sabbatical: Mike Kent, a projected starter at tight end this season, has decided to quit the football team to concentrate on school, according to Murphy. Kent, a sophomore, redshirted in 1988, so he won't be able to retain the season of eligibility.
Murphy said Kent, who caught three passes for 21 yards last season, will likely return for his junior season in 1991. The 6-6, 225-pound Kent is a 1988 graduate of Esperanza High School.
Women's basketball coach Maryalyce Jeremiah announced Monday that Anna Abramova, an 18-year-old basketball player from Leningrad, Soviet Union, will play for the Titans this season. Abramova is a 6-1 forward who has played the last several years at a special basketball training school in Leningrad. . . . Nine of the Fullerton football team's 12 games are on the road this season, but football Coach Gene Murphy says the Titans will have hit 25 cities, either en route to or at game sites, by season's end. With flights for games at Auburn, Mississippi State, Akron, Hawaii, San Jose State and New Mexico State, the Titans will log about 19,000 air miles.