Making the switch from high school athletics to FBS competition is a process that takes time, dedication, resilience and patience.
First-year tight end Jeremiah Gaines got to the Hilltop with a great deal of expectations.
Regarded as one of the best signings in the class, Gaines may have the talent to compete for playing time in his first year on campus.
But the young man isn't focused on anything but learning the Run N' Shoot offense and getting prepared mentally and physically for the months ahead.
"It's been a learning process the whole time just trying to get used to everything," Gaines said. "A lot of the older guys have been helping me out so that's really been one of the keys to my transition."'
Gaines says the biggest surprise about the collegiate level is the attention to detail. Running his routes with discipline and precision has been one of his main focuses in camp along with listening to coaches and giving maximum effort.
Gaines has already shown in practice what SMU recruiters saw in him at Red Oak, being a big, strong, physical and athletically gifted athlete with good hands and big play capabilities.
The hybrid tight end has done a great job of getting open and catching balls in traffic especially around the red zone. Gaines says the offense at SMU really fits his playing style.
"I think the offense does somewhat cater to my strengths especially when it comes to standing up (versus being down at the line of scrimmage)," Gaines said.
The most important lesson Gaines has learned so far is running his routes in a way that works off of the defender. Gaines says he has learned a lot just by watching the veteran receivers, who he says push him every day to be the best that he can be.
"A lot of guys, Ryan Walker, Toke (Jeremy Johnson), Stephen Nelson, they've all helped me to understand more on the field," Gaines said.
Although Gaines says he feels he has worked hard thus far, he believes he has a great deal of improving to do. Gaines wants to let each day build off the day before so that he can continue to progress on the field and help his team be undefeated after week one.
"I just want to work," the 6-foot-2, 235-pound freshman said. "I want to help my team continue to get better so we can beat Texas Tech. That's it."
VIDEO: SMU DE Zach Wood
• Cedric Lancaster looks small but very quick and speedy on the outside. Good hands too.
• In 7-on-7, Garret Krstich threw a ball too high for Jeremiah Gaines who tipped it up and Ace Holleman caught it out of the air. Holleman had a solid day all around making some nice catches and showing good effort.
• Lincoln Richard got burnt by Collin Lagasse for a touchdown down the sideline.
• Neal Burcham made a nice throw on a rope to Holleman in the back of the end zone between two defenders. Burcham looks very comfortable with the offense and gets rid of the ball quickly.
• Keenan Holman caught a nice back shoulder throw on the sideline. Looked really dynamic on the outside. Showed burst and the ability to get outside after the catch.
• Kolney Cassel made a nice throw to Darius Joseph just before the linebacker converged on him.
• Wide receivers coach Jason Phillips is really coaching the receivers hard especially when it comes to running back to the line of scrimmage after a catch. Good way to condition.
• Lancaster made a great move after a catch, making a defender fall but got hit and fumbled afterwards. Phillips brought him to the sideline and exchanged a few words.
• Krstich overthrew Deion Sanders Jr. twice in a row with one resulting in an interception by Ajee Montes.
• Der'rikk Thompson made the catch of the day hauling in a beautiful deep pass by Gilbert down the sideline. Thompson caught it over the shoulder with his finger tips and managed to keep his feet in bounds. Keenan Holman was ecstatic.
• Burcham made a bad decision to throw into traffic and was intercepted by Hayden Greenbauer.
• Jeremiah Gaines did well again today. A very big target that Gilbert is starting to get more and more comfortable with.
• Burcham threw a great ball to Holman down the sideline but he was absolutely blanketed by Horace Richardson.
• Big hit of the day was Jay Scott who absolutely crushed Daijuan Stewart near the end zone jarring the ball loose.
• Lagasse is really raising eyebrows. Shows decent speed and great ability to catch the ball on screens and in the flats and turn up field. Had a long catch and run late in practice, where he made one cut and took off up the sideline.
SMU Fall Camp Notebook: Day 4
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