When Baton Rouge signee Daverin Geralds was signed as an offensive lineman out of Scotlandville HS, there as little reason for anyone to think he'd play anywhere else on the collegiate level.
But when the 6-2, 305-pounder arrived on the Ole Miss campus, he was in for an awakening, of sorts.
"Because of the DL depth situation, the coaches asked me if I would mind going to defense," said Geralds, a personable sort. "I told them whatever the team needed was fine with me."
Not many people really felt like it would be a permanent move. Usually, in college football, the reverse happens - kids signed to play DL get switched to OL. Rarely the other way around, and it stick.
But Daverin, Valedictorian of his high school class, has become an exception to the rule, as it were.
"I wasn't real comfortable with it (DT) at first, but I found out after a while that I was probably a better defensive lineman than offensive lineman," he explains. "Once I started making progress, I felt like I found a home."
This spring, Geralds has gone beyond "making progress." In his post-practice meetings with the press, Rebel Coach Ed Orgeron has mentioned Daverin frequently as a player who has "stood out."
"I don't know if anyone was expecting me to come on this strong in spring, but I ws determined to show the coaches what I can do," he said. "The first two days of spring, I forced some fumbles and had some good pass rushes. I came out hard, which is what I was hoping to do.
"I worked hard and did extra stuff in the offseason to get myself prepared. It's paying off. I think I've even surprised myself. I did know I was coming to come out hard at practice, but I've been able to do some things I didn't know I could do."
Geralds said the transition from OL to DL is difficult, but doable.
"The most difficult thing is learning to use your hands. Playing DL, you have to use your hands all the time. You have to be active and flying around, looking for the ball and filling up your gap - you never get a break of any kind," he continued. "There's a lot more running on defense than offense. That was the biggest transition for me."
To prepare for spring, Daverin felt he needed to lose some extra baggage. He was 315 last year.
"315 was too heavy for me on the DL. I couldn't move like I wanted to and had to drop some weight," Geralds noted. "I dropped 12 or 13 pounds and am looking to get to 290-295. I think that's an ideal weight for me on the DL.
"The extra running on defense will take care of that and it will also help my conditioning. I was also able to get a lot stronger in the offseason. My power clean went from 250 to 300 and my bench went from 360 to 385 now."
Daverin, being an Academic All-State high school student, said the mental part of playing defense has not been that difficult for him.
"I was able to pick up the schemes pretty quickly, I believe. It was simple for me and not nearly as hard as the offensive playbook," he said. "The biggest thing is that you have to be more athletic on the DL. The techniques and schemes require athletes, not plodders.
"The weight loss I had has helped me with my athleticism. I didn't know I could move like I'm moving now. I am much more athletic now. My feet are pretty quick at 302 pounds."
Even though Daverin has made extremely good advancements as a DL, he said he's still adjusting to the speed of the game on this level.
"Everything happens a lot faster - a whole lot faster. In high school, I could get on linebackers so easy. My first day of camp last summer, when I was still on the OL, I sawa linebackers like Patrick Willis flying. I mean flying. You just feel like you will never be able to get close enough to someone like him to even have a chance to block him," he laughed. "It happens in a split second, and I'm still adjusting."
Geralds says he appreciates the fact the coaches have noticed him this spring and have put him in th "surprise" category, but he says there's more to come.
"I'm not finished yet," he said. "I have more to prove. I want to lock down a spot. I want to help the team more this year. I want to really play and to do that I have to prove myself every day.
"I want to stop being a surprise and start being someone the coaches and my teammates can count on. That's my goal."
Daverin said he's learned a lot from the likes of senior NT Jeremy Garrett.
"Everyone calls him Beaver because he works so hard, like a beaver," Daverin closed. "During the offseason, everyone started calling me Little Beaver. He has taken me under his wing and has shown me how to work and how to do things right.
"Beaver has been a key for my progress. He hs taught me a lot and I appreciate it. He's taught me how to think and play faster, which I needed to learn."
Daverin Geralds, like so many of the young Rebels on the squad, is a work in progress, but his progress report is solid.
Don't be surprised if Beaver and Little Beaver are stacking up opposing ballcarriers in 2007.
Daverin Geralds update -
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