Center Of Attention

ARLINGTON, Texas - Daverin Geralds said it's no repeat coming to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex for another bowl game. This year, it's all like new.

"This is nice. We're glad to be here," said the 6-foot-2, 305-pound center from Baton Rouge. "It's bigger and better than ever. It's like a new bowl for us. It's a new experience. We love the Cotton Bowl staff. They do a great job, and we're just thankful for being here."

Geralds, who wants a fifth season if the NCAA rules in his favor with some on-going appeals, is hopeful the Cotton Bowl won't be his last game.

"I hope to get another year. Hopefully the NCAA will rule in my favor. That's what I'm hoping for right now. If it doesn't go as planned, I'd like to take my game to the next level.

"But hopefully it's not my last game at Ole Miss," he says.

Offensive coordinator Kent Austin says Geralds, who moved from the defensive line to the offensive line in 2007, is the consummate team player.

"He was a converted defensive lineman, and we turned him into a center," Austin said. "He's done nothing but get better. He's very, very bright. A mathematics student that makes all the calls for us. He's a very, very hard worker and very strong. He loves to play the position and is one of the real anchors of our offensive line."

An offensive line that will face a stern test from the Oklahoma State defensive front. Geralds has respect for the guys he will face along the line of scrimmage.

"They're a great group that's well coached," he said. "They play very sound. They have some good interior guys. We're going to have to bring our game, our best game, for this defense because they're a well-coached group of guys."

Geralds said he's seen this type defense before, or at least one that reminds him of the Cowboys.

"They really mirror Auburn's defense a lot," he said. "They play a lot of what we call slide, which is basically a 4-3 front. They have some pretty big guys in there. They look like an SEC defense."

Geralds has looked like an SEC center, and the offensive line has come a long way since the early portion of the 2009 campaign.

"I think I've had a pretty good season, a pretty sound, consistent season," said Geralds, who has started 25 straight games at center, which would include last season's Cotton Bowl win against Texas Tech. "I feel like I've done a good job as far as playing that role of leading the offensive line with John Jerry and Reid Neely. I think we've all done a good job."

But it took a while. As the season moved on, so did the progress of the up-front offensive Rebs.

"As a line it took time just getting to know each other and getting good chemistry with the guys around us," Geralds said. "We had to mix and match a little bit and move some guys in and out, especially replacing Michael Oher and then with Darryl Harris and Mo Miller gone and just getting a good feel for those other guys around us. Those were the biggest obstacles we had to overcome. It took a little while, but we've got it pretty much now.

"We hit a few bumps in the road, had some ups and downs. That just comes with the game, and we just had to fight forward and overcome it the best we could. Everything's not always going to go as you plan. But it was basically just about persevering and overcoming those things."

That type attitude and approach continues this week as the Rebels try to put a loss to Mississippi State behind them with a victory. Oklahoma State is in the same situation as the Cowboys lost to arch-rival Oklahoma in their season finale.

"You don't ever want to have that bad taste in your mouth after a loss. So we know they're feeling the same way we are," Geralds said. "We're going to get after each other, because we want to get that bad taste out of our mouths from that last game. Hopefully that will be with a win."

And hopefully it won't be Daverin Geralds last in Red and Blue.

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