Derek's honor was receiving the Gatorade Player of the Year award for the state of Mississippi. But he may have been even more proud when he saw his older brother, Dezmond, receive his honor - a college degree from Mississippi State.
"Just seeing him walk across that stage really inspired me and opened my eyes to all the opportunities in front of me," said Derek. "I just have to take it. It would be nice to go to the NFL one day, but it made me see that you have to get that degree when you go to college."
The academically oriented Dezmond Sherrod earned his degree in three and a half years. And Derek, also an excellent student, plans on following in his older brother's footsteps.
"I plan on going to summer school this coming summer," said the 6-6, 307-pounder. "I think I will be coming in during the second term."
And it's no doubt in his mind that Mississippi State will be where he attends summer school despite receiving recruiting calls from a couple of colleges.
"I'm still receiving calls from Florida and Louisville, mostly," said Derek. "They are trying to encourage me to keep my options open and at least take a visit to their school so that they will know that I've actually had a chance to see what they are all about. I respect that."
Does he respect it enough to actually take a visit?
"It's any kid's dream to go play for a school that prestigious. But, for me, going to those schools is probably not for me because I really love Mississippi State. And I think that's the best choice for me," said Derek, who plans on taking his official visit to Mississippi State the weekend of January 19th-21st.
Does he ever day dream about taking official visits to schools other than MSU just so he can enjoy the recruiting process to it's fullest?
"Sometimes I think about that and I can see how other recruits might want to do all the extra stuff in the recruiting process and take more visits, but I love Mississippi State and my commitment is solid. And I really don't see the need for that," said Derek.
And I can guarantee you that last statement by Derek will bring smiles to the Mississippi State football coaching staff.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.