College of the Canyons defensive end Dorian Gerald holds a notebook in one hand and a pen in the other.
He stares down a COC Athletics staff member and asks, “How old are you?”
He records the answer then asks, “How often do you drink Coke?”
It’s a survey for his statistics class. He begins to walk down the hallway pointing at teammates along the way, asking – no, telling – them to take his survey.
That’s the kind of attitude that has helped Gerald earn offers from 17 NCAA Division 1 FBS programs, according to 247sports.com.
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s going to class and he’s doing well in his classes and that now is the reason why his recruiting is going as well as it is,” said COC head coach Ted Iacenda.
Combine that with the 54 tackles and 12 sacks he had in his first year with the Cougars and it’s no wonder he’s one of the most sought-after junior college recruits in the country.
Out of high school in Florence, South Carolina, Gerald had few looks from schools. He continued on to prep school. Still no looks.
“I lost it,” Gerald said. “Without my family, I didn’t think I’d be playing. Nobody was interested. I thought, ‘Nah, this ain’t for me.’”
Iacenda thought otherwise.
“I get 100 emails a day from kids that are looking to play out here,” Iacenda said. “Kids are constantly emailing, looking to get out here, and he sent me an email, I watched his film, I was like, ‘Wow, this kid is amazing.’”
— Dorian Gerald (@TopNotchDG) January 18, 2017
When the two met in person, Iacenda said he was further impressed by his politeness, something Gerald credits to his upbringing.
He spent the majority of his teens living with his grandmother. When his grandfather had passed away, Gerald felt it wasn’t right that she lived in a house by herself.
“Younger parents, they seem to be more lenient on stuff. But my grandmother, she wasn’t having it,” he said.
“You grow up learning stuff a little bit differently. … When I’m talking to people that grew up living with their parents, to me, it’s totally different. The manners thing is more forced. Me growing up, just saying ‘Yeah,’ I’d get in trouble.”
Gerald says that he’s close with multiple family members and that they serve as his motivation to get to the next level of football. But his grandmother has swayed him to potentially become a teacher when his athletic career ends.
The day on his mind at the moment, however, is June 1. That’s the day Gerald releases his top 10 school choices.
June 1st… lock that date in!
— Dorian Gerald (@TopNotchDG) May 14, 2017
With the likes of his home state’s University of South Carolina and a plethora of other options including Alabama, Florida State and Oklahoma, the decision won’t be easy.
Gerald has formulated a system to help him.
“I ask the coach a question about the school, and I find a player that goes to the school and see if it matches up to see if they’re telling the honest truth,” he said.
“That’s big. Honesty. I don’t ask for anybody to tell me, ‘Oh, you’re the number one player,’ I don’t ask for that. I don’t really care for that because I’m going to have to work anyway.”
Getting faster and stronger are both on the agenda. Gerald defines himself as an instinctive pass-rusher, but Iacenda sees more focus on technique in his future.
“He’s probably gotten by on just his God-given ability for so long, but the higher up he goes, the more he’s going to get honed in on footwork and steps and hand placement and things like that,” said the coach.
There is no ceiling for Gerald. It takes no math or statistics to understand that.
“Being at the bottom, like nobody wanted me, saying my grades weren’t good enough to go anywhere,” Gerald said. “That made me learn, like, you’ve got to do something.”