Geathers still fighting for test score

ATHENS – For Clifton Geathers and many of the nation's most highly recruited high school football players, it's a nervous time of year.

The spotlight and fleeting glory of the recruiting season have faded and reality has set in. Now it's time to qualify academically. Some have a harder time than others. And some, like Geathers, will go to almost any length to do it.

Clifton Geathers alone has traveled 7,000 miles.

That's the combined distance of his five round trips to Red Bank, N.J., to MAC Testing, Inc., and Dr. Jean D'Arcy Maculaitis.

Dr. Mac, as she's understandably called, runs a testing factory that has become internationally known. Georgia redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kade Weston is a veteran of her program, and 2006 signee Knowshon Moreno and Geathers are currently being tutored there.

"They brought Kade to me and said, ‘We need a miracle,'" Maculaitis said. "When they need miracles, they come here."

Weston, a native of Trinidad, came to Georgia as a full qualifier. Moreno also is expected to qualify, but Geathers, an offensive tackle who is the younger brother of former Bulldog defensive end Robert Geathers, admits he's on the borderline.

That's why he's taken time off from Carver's Bay High School in Georgetown, S.C., and his parents have taken on the cost of the training and the travel.

"When it comes down to your children, there's not much you wouldn't do to get help for them," Clifton's mother Debra Geathers said. "When you're in a small area like ours the help is not really there so we take advantage of what we can."

Maculaitis, who has a Ph.D., considers her center a holistic approach to learning. Every student has their vision and hearing checked upon arriving at the school and then is turned over to a team of teachers for evaluation in his or her specific shortcomings in areas that will be on the SAT or ACT test. (MAC Testing also provides tutoring for many other tests.)

"You can't normally have access to the people who write tests," Maculaitis said. "We're not just hanging out with teenagers, but I'm crazy mad for them so here I am having the time of my life."

Geathers first heard about MAC Testing at the U.S. Army All-America game in San Antonio, he said. The school also was recommended by someone at Georgia, but he could not remember who, he said.

"It's a very important test," he said. "That's why I've taken the time to go to New Jersey."

Geathers' travels aren't unique at the school, which has students from China, Russia and Switzerland, according to Maculaitis. Her "graduates" are on college rosters throughout the country.

On Wednesday, she flew a University of Louisville flag above her building to celebrate the graduation of star Cardinals basketball player Taquan Dean.

"This is about more truly helping people," Maculaitis said. "To me, it's like It's a Wonderful Life, except it's somebody graduating every time a bell rings. That's how it feels to me."

Geathers has one more shot to make a qualifying score on the SAT this summer, and he said this week he feels confident he will be able to after visiting Maculaitis' chool. Dr. Mac isn't making any promises, except that she and Geathers will go down swinging if they go down.

"You have to go and fight it out to the last second," she said. "That's why you have Hail Marys. Games are decided in the end sometimes. It doesn't have to be a pretty win. It just has to be a win."

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