Tennessee received commitment No. 17 in the Class of 2018 this week when junior college defensive end Dorian Gerald announced his intentions to play for the Vols.
Gerald ranks as the best strongside JUCO defensive end in the 247Sports composite rankings, but also brings so much more to Tennessee.
Once Gerald buys in with a team and coach, he remains loyal.
Top junior college players transfer out of California frequently because those schools cannot offer scholarships. Players will get the tape and recognition necessary to play at the next level and then bolt to a school with a less-expensive setup.
“Just to give you a sense of Dorian’s character,” Gerald’s JUCO coach Ted Iacenda said. “It is very common for California JC kids to leave California after a year to go to a Kansas or Arizona JC.
“To Dorian’s credit, he was loyal and stayed. He didn’t have to. He could have left, kids leave all the time.”
Gerald’s relationship with Iacenda and his loyalty kept him at the College of the Canyons for one more season.
Connecting with coaches and schools stood out to Gerald in the recruiting process. Butch Jones and his staff pushed the right buttons to build relationships.
“Dorian is a young man that reacts to honesty and integrity,” Iacenda said. “Not what can you do for me. It’s all about relationships.”
Gerald held notable offers from Alabama, Florida and Florida State, yet chose the Vols because of his relationships with the staff.
Tennessee needs Gerald to come in and be somewhat of a leader early. By Gerald’s senior year, he will be one of the oldest players on the defensive line. Tennessee has six upperclassmen on its two-deep roster on the defensive line heading into this fall.
Even coming in from a junior college, Gerald’s coach doesn’t think he’ll have any issue taking a leadership role.
“Dorian is not a rah-rah type of kid,” Iacenda said. “He’s not going to be giving any fiery speeches. That’s not his mentality. Dorian is a blue-collar young man. He shows up and does his work and will lead by example. He will lead through his actions and his performance.”
Gerald’s play on Saturdays will be what eventually sets him apart.
“I think at 6-3, 260 maybe 265 pounds, the combination of speed and strength that he has is not seen very often,” Iacenda said. “It’s rare.”