Most of us have been there before. For whatever reason - whether it be family, doctors, or just ourselves - we've tried to lose some weight. Three months ago South Carolina defensive tackle Byron Jerideau was no different. Jerideau was pushing 350 pounds and found himself watching from the sidelines for the majority of the season.
"(He couldn't) move," Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing said following Tuesday's practice. "He was just too big - he was bound. He couldn't even bend over and touch his toes."
Jerideu wasn't always that big. The 6-1 junior came out of high school at 320 according to Scout.com and was anywhere between 315-320 during his freshman season at Fort Scott Junior College. The former Walterboro native had 71 tackles - 15.5 resulting in lost yardage - and 3.5 sacks at Fort Scott. It was what happened after the season that resulted in his weight gain.
"It was that extra spring semester when I stayed there to get more offers," Jerideau said. "I was just chillin."
Lawing did not like the direction Jerideau was headed, and not just in football.
"He's dealing with a lot of life issues," Lawing said. "Where he was headed - he was headed to 400 pounds in probably another couple of years. That's not healthy for anybody - not only for football but for his health."
Lawing decided to have a heart-to-heart with Jerideau following the season to entice him to lose some weight. Whatever Lawing said worked. Jerideau is currently 312 pounds according to Lawing, a near 50 pound drop.
"When I got in (Lawing) wanted me down so I stopped eating beef, pork - red meat - and bread, worked out extra and the weight came off," Jerideau said.
"He couldn't move so he's changed his body so he's now able to do the things we ask him to do," Lawing said. "He eats better and he feels better about himself. He's doing a good job for us - he's made tremendous improvement.
It sounds so simple to just lay off a few meats and bread and work out a little harder, but as anyone who's tried to lose weight can tell you, it certainly isn't easy.
"It was (hard to do) but it was for a good cause," Jerideau said.
Jerideau's effort hasn't gone unnoticed by Lawing, but he says it's going to be an ongoing process.
"I admire someone when they're disciplined enough to push away from the dinner table and do a little bit of extra work," Lawing said. "He's done a great job. It's an ongoing procedure for him because he knows that extra piece of bacon or whatever could mean the difference between not performing well and performing well."
Jerideau's size was always his advantage, but he says that despite the weight loss his size will still be his strength as he fights for playing time. Right now he's backing up Travian Robertson on the left side of the line, but he's hoping to take over on the right side that is currently open with Melvin Ingram's move to the end position on passing downs.
"I'm hoping I can start on the right side," Jerideau said. "I just have to show coach that I can play the left side first."
There's currently a battle going on for that position between Jerideau, Aldrick Fordham, Kelcy Quarles, and J.T. Surratt.
"We have a lot of competition right now and they see it and they know it," Lawing said. "The ability to compete is the only thing you can't judge in recruiting. They're all in there together fighting for playing time."
It's obviously going to take more than just losing weight for Jerideau to push into the starting rotation after playing in just seven games last season, where he recorded 10 tackles on the year and one sack in the wins over Furman and Clemson.
"I messed up on a lot of plays last year," Jerideau said. "This year it's just get the plays right. I'm better at the plays - less (missed assignments) and less loafs in the scrimmages because I'm in good shape now."
Jerideau has also caught the eye of assistant head coach Ellis Johnson.
"Jerideau has had a pretty solid spring," Johnson said. "We've been pretty well pleased with him. He's had some things that have been disappointing, but overall he's made great strides."
Jerideau takes part in St. Baldricks
As was reported only on GamecockAnthem this weekend, Jerideau was one of the three players that took place in a St. Baldricks event Saturday at Jillian's. Jerideau and D.L. Moore joined Kyle Nunn at the event and had no intentions of being involved in the event.
"It wasn't planned," a clean shaven Jerideau said. "Kyle Nunn's little brother had cancer when he was young so every year he grows his hair out and shaves it for that. We were just there and his brother was shaving his and they said there was three football players that would shave theirs if we raised $1,000. They raised $1,300 in like five minutes so we did it."
Of the three, D.L. Moore had the most to lose, literally. Moore shaved the dreads that he's sported and was quite a change for him.
"I think he had to get a new helmet," Jerideau said. "It was a big change in his head size without the dreads."
The St. Baldrick's Foundation is dedicated to help find cures for childhood cancers. Last year the foundation raised over 22 million and is just under 18.5 million raised this year. For more information, visit www.stbaldricks.org.
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