All things considered, Daverin Geralds did a remarkable job as the starting center on the Rebel football team in 2008.
He had never played center in his grid career and had not been moved to the offensive side of the ball until after Offensive Line Coach Mike Markuson came on campus last January.
Markuson saw something in Geralds he liked for center, a position, frankly, the Rebs were desperate to fill in a hurry.
"Daverin is intelligent, a quick learner and a hard worker, plus he has good athletic skills," Markuson noted. "The transition was not easy, but I could tell by the end of spring training last year that he was going to be fine."
Now, Geralds enters his senior season as an established performer who got better each game in 2008.
But he's not satisfied.
"I want to perfect the little things," said Daverin, who seems to smile all the time. "My footwork, aiming points, point of attack - things like that - can be improved. I did OK in those areas last year, but I can do better.
"Now that I have experience and know what I'm doing at the center position, I can concentrate on doing all those things better."
Geralds believes he has all the mental aspects of the position down pat.
"After being in the system for a year, running the same offense for a year and actually playing 13 games, I know what I am doing with the line calls and I can help the other guys on the O-line with their assignments too," he noted. "This spring, we can get better as a unit and get in sync.
"We all want to be better technicians with what we do. Coach Markuson has said he will not change anything this spring. We don't expect any new schemes up front, so now we are in the perfecting stage of our development."
For his part, Daverin is also trying to work some on his body.
"I want to be in the best shape of my life. Usually in the offseason I put on extra weight. This year I have kept the weight off and have trimmed some body fat. I weigh 305 now and that's a good weight for me," Geralds explained.
As a veteran and a senior, Geralds is already taking on more of a leadership role with the team and in particular with the offensive line.
"All the seniors have big shoes to fill with Micheal Oher, Mo Miller and Darryl Harris now gone," he added. "Now, John Jerry, Reid Neely and I have to take up the slack and fill in the leadership void.
"I think we are going to do a good job with the senior leadership. We learned from the guys before us and want to keep the ball rolling. We are already stepping up and taking charge, the way we are supposed to."
Daverin will be flanked on the left side by Rishaw Johnson, who is the likely candidate to fill Harris' starting position at LG. Neely, a veteran and also a senior, will be to his right. Bradley Sowell should emerge from spring at the number one LT.
"I already know what Reid and John can do on the right side and I am very confident in Rishaw and Bradley," said Daverin. "They put in the work and take leadership well. They are up to the challenge. I can already see it in the weight room."
In spring, one of his main goals from an OL standpoint will be developing the necessary chemistry with Johnson and Sowell, something he already has with Neely and Jerry.
"I'm anxious to line up with those guys and learn their tendencies. We will develop a bond and the right chemistry this spring," he stated. "It's a puzzle now, but we'll put the pieces together."
Geralds is excited about the prospects for 2009, but he's fully aware of the different look the Rebels will get from opponents this coming year.
"We know opponents are going to come at us harder now. We can't hide from anyone now. We will be considered one of the top teams in the West this year and folks will be laying in the bushes waiting for us," he closed. "Now, we'll be the front runners when the season begins and we will have to work harder to stay there.
"That's why we are working so hard in the offseason and will work hard right up to the first game in September. We know what is in store for us, but we want that challenge."
Daverin Geralds -
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