- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

William Shime had never seen a football game before he arrived from Cameroon at age 17. Now, as a fifth-year senior at Maryland, he will start at nose tackle for the Terrapins in perhaps their most important game this season.

Shime (pronounced SHE-may) was on the sideline when starter C.J. Feldheim suffered torn knee ligaments on the Terps' first defensive play against Duke two weeks ago.

The 6-foot-2, 285-pound Shime was thrust into the game and did a strong job securing the middle of the line. With Feldheim lost for the season, the fifth-year senior became an unlikely starter and again proved worthy last week at North Carolina. And now the former high school exchange student is a significant part of a squad that has won six straight as it chases a second consecutive ACC title.

"I'm living a dream," said Shime, who will graduate next month. "I couldn't have asked for a better ending. I haven't played much the last four years, and suddenly I'm living a dream. I just want to see how it's going to end."

The Terps (7-2, 3-1 ACC) will face their toughest test since the streak began when No.14 N.C. State (9-1, 4-1) visits College Park on Saturday. Shime has been a surprising contributor on a defensive line that had few quality reserves before Feldheim went down and was near desperate after losing him.

Shime has had several injuries in his career and underwent surgery on his right ankle over the summer. Coaches weren't sure what they would get when they told Shime to grab his helmet and seize the opportunity.

"When Feldheim got hurt, we needed somebody," defensive coordinator Gary Blackney said. "Some guys in [Shimes] role might just try to get through their fifth year and graduate and maybe try not to get hurt. That's what makes a good team when you have somebody waiting in the wings and you know very little about him, and when the call comes, he steps up."

Shime came to Maryland as an exchange student at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville. He played soccer and basketball growing up in Cameroon and basketball as a junior at McNamara, where he displayed his size, speed and athleticism. He was persuaded to play football the next year.

"My first high school football game was really, really weird," said Shime, who speaks English, French and German. "I was never involved in that much contact before. I was 18 the first time I wore a helmet. It was an adjustment."

Shime showed enough size and strength that several Division I schools recruited him. He would have returned to Cameroon had he not received a scholarship. The big lineman got offers from Mississippi, Marshall and Maryland. The Terps' recruiting coordinator was former McNamara player Chris Cosh, who is now at South Carolina.

"He was real raw," said Maryland's current recruiting coordinator, Mike Locksley, who was on the staff with Cosh. "We took a chance on him because of his size and his position. He was a big kid that's athletic and physical. It was just a matter of his talent catching up with his body. It's taken a lot longer than most of us expected."

E.J. Henderson was in the same freshman class as Shime, and they redshirted their first year. The linebacker remembers a happy-go-lucky kid adjusting to American culture who often kept to himself.

"He was just a big African dude who didn't know too many people," Henderson said.

Shime is the second youngest of five children. His family still lives in Cameroon and has never seen him play. He returned home after last season's Orange Bowl and showed pictures of himself in a Maryland uniform.

"People ask me if I'm an astronaut or something," he said. "They know I'm in college playing sports, but they have no idea how important or big it is."

He regularly e-mails his family and speaks to his mother by phone once a week. She will make her first trip to America next month to see her son graduate with a degree in international business and probably will stay around to see Maryland's bowl game. It is a game that until recently William figured he would watch as a uniformed spectator.

"It really didn't look like I was going to be a factor," Shime said.

"I still got myself ready just in case. You never know."

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