At the Detroit Lions' training camp at Oakland University here, Coach Monte Clark is repeating Billy Sim's story about the customary hazing of rookies.

Sims stood on a chair, placed his right hand over his heart, said, "My name is Billy Sims, from Oklahoma University and I'm the reason none of you are going to get any raises."

The No. 1 draft choice is so well liked, Clark says, that his gag went over, even though the Lions are having trouble signing some of their veterans who want big raises.

Otherwise, Sims declined comments about the often acrimonious negotiations between his agent and the Lions before the Heisman Trophy winner became the highest-paid rookie from this year's draft.

Sims pokes fun at Oklahoma's infrequent use of the pass when asked to account for not dropping a throw in his first minicamp with the Lions.

"I had a 1.000 percentage in catches at Oklahoma in my career," he says. "I was thrown to three times in four years and caught them all."

Some scouts thought that at age 25 Sims would be starting late in pro football, but the coach said, "It's been an asset. He's under great pressure as the No. 1 choice in the whole draft, and as a former Heisman winner.

"Someone less mature -- with no insight or humor -- might have found the pressure too much, but he learned to handle questions and interviews while making public appearance in connection with the trophy award.

"The players like Sims, because he can give them a lift after our 2-14 season, and inspire them. There is no resentment at all of his status."

Clark acknowledged that he didn't figure to be surprised by the talent of Sims. "But I was a little surprised during his first week in camp, when on the second time he touched the ball, he ran 65 yards from scrimmage for a touchdown.

"People here received him very well and you can say the coach was doing silent flip-flops, too."

Sims has responded to personal one-on-one consultations by Clark.

"We are putting in formations designed to get the ball to him a lot. For instance, I'll tell Billy when we put in a certain formation, 'This ought to be a good play for you,'" Clark said.

Not many novices in pro ball are accorded that sharing of tactics on a personal basis.

On Saturday a scrimmage was rained out, with a few hundred fans on hand, eager to see their new hope.

Sims has been so committed to moving himself despite blisters on his foot and a twisted ankle, Clark said the trainer can't keep him out of practice.

In face Sims was scheduled to play for a quarter Saturday, but when the coach announced a night off. Sims sounded like a schoolboy let off from classes as he apologized to the media before hurrying off to meet his wife in Detroit for dinner.

Sims has had trouble before with foot blisters and he didn't come to camp in the best of shape because of them and because he couldn't enjoy good workouts back in the Southwest, due to the extreme and lasting high temperatures. And he was tired the first couple days in camp from driving his pickup truck to camp from home.

"A lot of people would have excused themselves out of there with those blisters, but he has done everything we have asked, and more.

"What we have seen is that he has the natural 'lean' of a great runner, and then turns up field in a flash. He can find cracks in the line, and he makes cracks. He doesn't need much of a crack.

"Even I could play on the offensive line with Jim Brown," the coach said, referring to his days with the Cleveland Browns, and putting Simms in a high class company as a runner.

Clark said since Sims came to camp "the players sure have been doing a lot of whooping and hollering. That's good unless it is false chatter.

"People have been critical of our offensive line; it is the youngest in the league, I have been asked what I'm going to do about it as a former lineman.

"I talked to our offensive linemen about it and they're laughing about the criticism. That may be a good sign for me, and Billy."