Selim Baccouche: Not your average lineman
Selim Baccouche is not your typical freshman recruit. Many words can be used to describe his journey to the Santa Monica College football defensive line, but average is not one of them. Most SMC recruits are taken from one of many impressive high school programs in the Los Angeles area, with a handful of players coming from other regions of California, and a small number from of out of state.
But Baccouche’s road to the Corsairs started more than 5,600 miles away in a small town just south of Paris, France. With a population of just over 25,000, Savigny-le-Temple is where Baccouche first started playing football about two years ago.
“I grew up close to Paris," said Baccouche. "It’s a small city. Everyone knows each other. I miss it. Two years ago I had my first game in France and I fell in love with it. Next thing I knew, I was trying out for SMC and now here I am.”
Before trying out for the defending Pacific Conference Champion Corsairs prior to the 2013 season, Baccouche had stints with two different Division III football teams in France, one very close to his home in Savigny-le-Temple.
“I had to relearn a lot of things when I came to SMC, but I’m very thankful for what I learned from all my coaches back home,” said Baccouche. “Watching film on last year’s championship team had a big impact on me.”
Baccouche now finds himself under the tutelage of head coach Gifford Lindheim as well as defensive coordinator Steve Garcia.
“Coach Garcia and Coach Giff have helped me a lot; the whole team has," he said. "Since I started playing for SMC, I’ve become a better player."
The coaching that Baccouche spoke of is already turning out results. In Saturday’s game against the San Bernardino Valley College Wolverines, he recorded a half a sack and helped a teammate bring down SBVC's runningback for a tackle for loss. He also recorded six tackle assists.
“I was glad I was able to contribute defensively," he said. "We have a good defense; we just need to live play by play and have a short memory."
With impressive progression in a relatively short amount of time, it seems Baccouche could have a good shot at making the jump to a Division I or Division II program. But when asked about making the transition after SMC, he insists on taking it one day at a time.
“I want to walk before I run, take it one game at a time," said Baccouche. "But at the end of the day, if I can get a scholarship, I’ll be very thankful."
Baccouche’s older brother, who he credits with giving him the opportunity to attend SMC, set out on a journey of his own just to see his younger brother play on Saturday, starting in China and then passing through France on his way to Los Angeles.
“My brother really supports me while I’m at school and away from home,” said Baccouche. “I love my parents, my brother, my stepsister, my whole family. It’s hard to be far from them.”
If the Corsairs wish to come back from an early 1-2 start, they may need Baccouche, especially if he can infect the SMC defensive unit with the same type of determination he has shown thus far in his budding career.