Scottie Bordelon is a reporter for WholeHogSports.com. A graduate of the University of Arkansas, Bordelon previously covered high school sports for the Times Record in Fort Smith and the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Springdale. He is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association and Football Writers Association of America, and was awarded 2022 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Pittman: Gerald could be 'strong leader' for Arkansas
Arkansas defensive lineman Dorian Gerald works through a drill Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, during practice at the university practice field. Visit nwadg.com/photos to see more photographs from the practice.
FAYETTEVILLE — Nearly one year ago, Dorian Gerald’s health was in question and his football career was uncertain as he laid in a bed at a local hospital.
In the second quarter of Arkansas’ season opener against Portland State last August, a puzzling injury abruptly ended Gerald’s year. Two days after the game, former Razorbacks coach Chad Morris announced the junior college transfer strained an artery in his neck.
Morris, who labeled the injury “very strange,” added he did not know what the future would hold for Gerald other than he would be on blood thinner and undergo testing over the next several months. It was far too early to say whether he would be able to play football again.
Gerald, though, was deadset on returning to the field, writing in a tweet that he would be “back next year better than ever.”
Next year has arrived. And based on what he has been seen in offseason conditioning and team walkthroughs in recent weeks, Arkansas football coach Sam Pittman is a believer in the defensive end.
“He is a very vocal guy and has been working his tail off, so I’ve been really pleased with him,” Pittman said of Gerald on Thursday during a Zoom conference with reporters. “And I will be when we put pads on, but we haven’t yet. But I promise I will be.
“He’s too talented for us not to be.”
Gerald, rated the No. 1 junior college defensive end out of College of the Canyons in California, appeared in eight games in his first season with the Razorbacks in 2018, earning starts in the team’s final two games. He totaled 21 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and two pass breakups.
The following preseason, Gerald won a starting job and was expected to be a mainstay and a playmaker on the defensive line alongside McTelvin Agim. He wound up with one tackle and one pass breakup prior to his season-ending injury.
Gerald was cleared to resume football training in November. Pittman added in March that he was progressively getting in much better shape.
“I have had one-on-one conversations with him about what we needed to do,” Pittman said. “He is getting stronger. I really like the kid, think he’s smart. He is a good guy to have in that D-line room.”
According to Arkansas’ updated roster for the 2020 season, Gerald stands at a solid 6-3, 288 pounds. He was listed at a fairly lean 261 pounds entering the only game he played a season ago.
Pittman said Gerald is working hard to improve his quickness over where it was last season.
“He really, really looks good,” Pittman noted. “He’s got tremendous foot speed and he’s another guy who should be a leader on our football team.
“He could be a strong leader for us. Kids look up to him.”
Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.