Saturday was the culmination of a lifetime of playing football for Vikings guard Chris DeGeare, as he was taken in the fifth round of the 2010 draft by the Vikings. But one important thing was missing at DeGeare's celebration – his mom.
In March 2007, his mother Genetria, lost her battle with breast cancer. Devastated by the loss, DeGeare's grades suffered and he was ruled academically ineligible. He was given a redshirt season, but he said the loss changed his life and football wasn't his immediate concern at the time.
"She was my inspiration, she was my everything, she was my best friend, she was the person I went to," DeGeare said. "It was very tough to lose someone that you're that close to. Back in '08, I had some academic trouble and had to catch up in the classroom to be able to graduate. I graduated this past December and I'm proud of myself."
He said his drafting to the NFL, while one of the highlight moments of his life, is still missing something. As excited as he is about coming to the Vikings, his mind remained on his mother and how she would have reacted to his football dream being realized.
"It's very tough," DeGeare said. "I think about her constantly. I know if she was here with me right now, she'd be very proud of me, but I've got a great family and a great supporting cast. That's probably the No. 1 thing in life is family and they're great. I'm very blessed to have them."
After playing his first three seasons at right guard, when he returned to the Demon Deacons in 2009, he was moved to left tackle. The Wake Forest coaching staff has the philosophy of putting the line's best athlete at left tackle. DeGeare made the switch and, while he doesn't project at tackle in the NFL, his experience at both the positions is a bonus that he hopes will allow him to stick with the Vikings.
"I'm a great run blocker, but I'm very versatile," DeGeare said. "I can play guard or tackle. They can plug me in wherever they need me. I look forward to learning from two Pro Bowl offensive linemen in (Steve) Hutchinson and Bryant (McKinnie). I'm just ready to roll."
DeGeare said that he knew the Vikings might be a team that was interested in him because of the free-agent loss of Artis Hicks. Hicks was a valuable swingman who could play both guard and tackle and DeGeare sees many of those same qualities in his game, but added that he has a personal preference of positions.
"At this point, I prefer guard," DeGeare said. "I played guard for three years in college and also played guard in my all-star game in January. I'm definitely more comfortable with guard."
He said he had no idea where he would be drafted, because of the nature of the NFL draft, where teams get excited about players in the later rounds and make what some scouts see as surprise moves. DeGeare was convinced he would go somewhere, but exactly where that would be, he didn't have a clue.
"This being the NFL draft, just you never know," DeGeare said. "It's a crapshoot. You have no idea who's going to land you or what team is going to take you, but I did notice that (the Vikings) needed depth on the O-line."
With the chance to win a roster spot, DeGeare said that blocking for Adrian Peterson and working with guys like Hutchinson is something he dreamed of, but the reality of it happening has him ready to go.
"It's going to be so surreal," DeGeare said. "I can't wait to come in and meet everybody. These are the guys I've been watching on TV for the past years and I'm going be playing along with these guys and be in the heat of battle with them. I'm very excited."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
DeGeare's bittersweet day
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