Jerideau in unfamiliar territory

When you're as big as Byron Jerideau has always been, you would expect him to have experience on both sides of the line of scrimmage. However, Jerideau has never played a snap on the offensive line. Junior College, high school, middle school, pee wee league, never. Until now.

As practice was ending Wednesday night and Seth Strickland, Andrew Clifford, and Bruce Ellington were conducting their interviews on the near field, over on the far field a player was still hard at work with his coach.

His new coach.

With Strickland, Clifford, and Ellington already headed down the street towards Williams-Brice Stadium and the locker room and members of the media standing around waiting, the player was still working hard.

Nearly 15 minutes after practice had concluded #70 came walking over towards the media. With that seemingly-always big smile on his face, Byron Jerideau came walking over in his new garnet, offensive jersey. For the first time in his life, the 6'1, 319-pound redshirt junior is working out on the offensive line.

"Last time I played offense? Never," Jerideau said. "This was my second day ever playing offense…in my life."

Jerideau was using the extra time to work with his new position coach, Shawn Elliott, trying to use every second possibly trying to learn a new position.

"I just have to learn the plays and techniques and stuff," Jerideau said. "I was working with Coach Elliott after practice getting stuff down pat."

The transfer of coaches to Elliott can be a difficult one. His passion, tenacity, and anger about mistakes are second to none. But when you consider where Jerideau is coming from – defensive line coach Brad Lawing – the transition of coaches is not that bad.

"I like Coach Elliott. He's a good coach," Jerideau said.

Jerideau said the decision to move was mutual between him and the coaches because Jerideau wants more playing time and, as Coach Spurrier said at his Tuesday press conference, the coaches want him out there on the field. Jerideau has played sparingly in all six contests, recording seven tackles, one and a half sacks, and recovered a fumble Saturday against Kentucky in what turns out to be his final game of the season on defense. Following Monday night's practice, the decision was made to move Jerideau to the offensive line where he will line up at guard.

"I'm getting comfortable in practice right now running plays," Jerideau said. "I was getting a lot of reps and learning."

Jerideau's path has been a long, winding one. The Colleton County product was not recruited by South Carolina out of high school, ending up at Fort Scott Community College. After spending two years at Fort Scott, Jerideau was practically signed, sealed, and delivered to Baylor. In the eleventh hour, Jerideau received a call from then-recruiting coordinator Shane Beamer. Beamer told Jerideau the Gamecocks would like to offer Jerideau a scholarship, an offer he was not about to turn down.

After playing sparingly in his first season in Columbia, Jerideau was on the verge of losing everything. Nearing 400 pounds, Jeriedeau was on the wrong path. With the help of Lawing and strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald, Jerideau was able to turn his life around.

"I worked hard all summer and got in good shape, got strong, and lost weight," Jerideau said.

His path took one more turn this week with the move to the other side of the line of scrimmage.

"I've been in the trenches," Jerideau said. "The trenches are the trenches."

One would think that it would be very unlikely that Jerideau would be called on with less than a week of practice at the position and in a hostile environment in Starkville Saturday afternoon against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. He hopes differently.

"I don't know. Maybe. I hope so," Jerideau said.

What will happen if #70 is put in the game? With that infectious smile, Jerideau's answer was simple.

"Something good."


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