"Learning from Greg (Hardy), knocking hands down, moving a little faster. Really learning to read what that O-lineman is doing. Learning from Kentrell (Lockett). He's a really good technician. He knows where he's supposed to be. He's real good with his eyes in the run game, things like that.
"Even with Mike (Oher) when I was on scout team, if I would do something, he would say if I had done this move right here, I would have beat him. Things like that. I've learned a lot from a lot of those guys."
And it's paid off for him. "I feel like I'm really getting into my plays a lot better," said Rivers, who played in five games with four tackles in 2009. "I'm really staying focused. I'm finding my role on the team."
His role is whatever the coaches and team need it to be, according to Rivers.
"I just really want to go out there and whatever play coach puts out there, just play it to the best of my abilities," he said. "Whatever situation that puts me in is where I want to be. I just want to help the team any way I can."
Right now that's as a prominent part of the defensive unit, at defensive end behind Lockett.
Houston Nutt is pleased with the progress Rivers has made.
"Gerald Rivers has had an excellent camp," the third-year head coach of the Rebels said. "He's in the mix. I'm really excited about him."
Rivers said it's been a steady climb for him to get where he is today. He's come a long way, and he knows there's still a lot of room for improvement.
"When I first got here, it seemed like things were just moving a lot faster," he said. "Even doing pass rush, it seems like you think you can go out there and run around everybody. You've got to really take it from the coaches and what they are teaching you. Coach (Terry) Price emphasizes the techniques, working our hands, working different types of moves. You can't always beat them with speed. Sometimes you've got to just run at them."
Rivers says he likes this Rebel defense, and he knows others on that side of the ball feel the same way.
"I feel like everybody has the same mindset," he said. "If we go out there and we play with the scheme coach puts out for us, we'll be great. One thing I love about this defense, everybody is held up to that accountability. The twos have to be as good as the ones. There can't be a dropoff. So you know that you have to be ready at any moment to step up."
Looking For Separation
Rodney Scott made some noise as a true freshman running back last season. He rushed the football 35 times and scored two touchdowns in his debut season.
But he wants to accomplish more this season, and he believes he can do just that.
"I feel like I've had a good camp, but I've still got things to improve on," said the 5-foot-8, 200-pounder.
"But I just give my assist to the linemen, because they open the hole for me. I just try to make it happen."
Scott, a high school All-American, is well aware of the competition that's in the offensive backfield. Guys like Brandon Bolden, Enrique Davis, Devin Thomas, and newcomer Jeff Scott are all making noise for playing time. That's OK with Rodney.
"It's a good thing," he said. "It keeps everybody going as hard as they can. There's good competition back there, and we all know that."
Knowledge is a big part of being a collegiate running back, Scott says. He says since high school just two years ago he's learned quite a bit about the ins and outs of the running game. And it's more than just running the football.
"You've got to know everything," he said. "If a safety comes, you have to know to pick him up. It's more than just the run game. You're involved in blocking, passing, all that."
And he understands more what the coaches want now. They want to see improvement and accomplishment in all aspects of the position.
"They take pride in you blocking," Scott said. "So you're going to have to block if you want to carry the ball. I've learned it's a lot faster (at this level). You've got to catch the ball out of the backfield as a running back. You've got to block. There's a lot to it.
"They (coaches) know you can carry the ball. They want to see what else you can do."
Nutt says he's seeing that from Rodney. But he believes there's more to see from the sophomore.
"He started out slow this camp," Nutt said. "But he's getting better. He's coming on now."