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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | ERIC SONDHEIMER

Lins a Laid-Back Quarterback

July 26, 1998|ERIC SONDHEIMER

NORTHRIDGE — David Lins envisions himself as a college quarterback, but his orange metallic sunglasses, baggy shorts and wavy blond hair leave many with the illusion he is the surfer Spicoli from the 1982 movie, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High."

Everyone, including sportswriters and coaches, have misjudged Lins at some point because of his surfer clothes and changing hair styles.

I remember laughing at Crespi High Coach Tim Lins (no relation) when he pointed out his future quarterback standing on the sideline with baggy shorts and hair touching his shoulders in the fall of 1992. It was first time I underestimated David Lins.

"Play like Dave, don't dress like Dave," became Tim Lins' rallying cry to Crespi quarterbacks.

"Back in high school, I probably did a little too much to get that image," Lins said. "To tell you the truth, with my age, I don't want that anymore."

Lins celebrated his 21st birthday last week by taking a trip to Las Vegas. If he were put in a lineup and a stranger had to identify the quarterback in the casino, Lins would be the last person selected.

"I've always felt the image came from first impressions," he said. "Once people play with me and have been around me, they know I'm a serious person, especially when it comes to football."

After Lins arrived last spring at Cal State Northridge, quarterbacks coach Jeff Kearin recalled "looking at this little surfer dude with his pants around his waist."

Offensive coordinator Rob Phenicie, who helped coach Lins at Valley College, tried to convince Matador coaches not to make any conclusions until they saw Lins play.

"He looks like he's riding on a surfboard," offensive line coach Aron Gideon said.

Lucky for Lins that first-year Coach Ron Ponciano didn't know most Northridge players. He made no judgments until after spring ball. By then, Ponciano was more impressed with Lins, the football player, than Lins, the surfer.

"As a head coach, you have to trust your [offensive] coordinator and your position coach, and they know who I liked [Lins] in spring ball," Ponciano said. "Josh [Fiske] is our guy right now. But it'll be an interesting situation."

Lins has become a legitimate contender to win the Northridge starting quarterback position even though Fiske, a junior, and redshirt freshman Marcus Brady were considered the favorites going into spring practice.

Lins did what he always has done--master the offense, show leadership, avoid mistakes and complete lots of passes.

"Everybody liked Lins because of his swagger," Kearin said. "He really had a presence back there."

Lins knows how to deliver. At Crespi, as an inexperienced junior in 1993, he guided the Celts to the Division I semifinals, the last and probably only time this decade any Valley team will advance that far in Division I.

Yes, he had a pass intercepted on the goal line with six minutes to play in the Celts' 7-3 loss to Eisenhower, but he rallied Crespi from 14 points down in the fourth quarter to beat San Clemente in overtime in the quarterfinals. He wound up second in school history with 3,409 yards passing.

At Valley, he replaced All-American Aaron Flowers and led the Monarchs to a 10-1 record in 1996. He was the top-rated quarterback in the Western State Conference in passing efficiency.

"He finds a way to get it done," Tim Lins said.

"I love the guy," Valley Coach Gary Barlow said. "His composure in the pocket, his ability to scan the whole field. . . . He was as efficient as any quarterback we've had."

The only obstacle Lins has failed to overcome is the "eyeball test" and the "first-impression test." Lins has no one to blame but himself.

At Crespi, he'd greet people, "Hey, dude" or 'How's it hanging?' "

While attending San Diego State last fall and living two minutes from the beach, he'd go surfing "in the morning, in the afternoon and at night."

This summer, he has given up surfing so he can focus totally on football.

"I feel I'll be in top form," he said.

Lins isn't abandoning surfing, though. He's just postponing his next beach excursion. Of course, if Northridge had a surfing team. . . .

"Hey, definitely, I'd join for sure, as long as it was after the [football] season," he said. "That could be my spring sport."

*

Eric Sondheimer's local column appears Wednesday and Sunday. He can be reached at (818) 772-3422.

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