Thu, Apr 20, 2017
Reese's Senior Bowl: Gerald, it's been a heck of a journey for you. You got a chance to showcase your athleticism for these last few months as you fulfill your dream of making it to the NFL, how's everything going?
Gerald Everett: Everything's going great, according to plan. Like you said, I had a crazy ride to get to this point but had it not been as crazy as it was, I don't know if I'd be to this point. But I've enjoyed the entire process and I gotta take the good with the bad so I can't complain, Pat.
RSB: Growing up in Georgia, you go to junior college in Kansas, you spend four months at UAB. How did you end up at juco in Kansas and did you ever settle in at all at UAB?
Everett: Funny story, I was at Bethune-Cookman my freshman year and I redshirted that year. Things weren't working out so I decided to transfer and go the junior college route. And then I ended up doing some time out in Kansas, about a year and a half, and then UAB ended up finding me. They basically told me what they wanted to do with the tight end position and that they felt like I was athletic enough to do it. So, I was all for it, man, and it just kind of took off from there. But, once I got to UAB, as soon as I got my feet wet, we had won that sixth game to become bowl eligible and they shut the program down so now I'm stuck back at square one looking for another place to call home.
RSB: What was your reaction like when the program got shut down?
Everett: I was sick, man, I was sick. I really didn't see that coming. It was literally the day after we had gotten the bowl berth game and it was right before they did the bowl bids and they just told us that basically we're shutting down and it was kind of up in the air for a day or two but I mean, things like that don't just come out of nowhere so we kind of had an idea that it was gonna happen. I think about that too, the day they actually officially shut it down and then my recruitment opened up again.
RSB: And you ended up here in Mobile, Alabama at South Alabama. Offensive coordinator Bryant Vincent was down here and I'm sure he was a least a little bit of a factor but why South Alabama?
Everett: Just because it was the same scheme that we had at UAB and I saw myself thriving in that offense, playing behind some guys that I felt did really well in the offense at the tight end position and it'll be crazy for me to try to go to another offense and learn and climb up the depth chart when I already had UAB offensive system in my back-pocket. So I felt like that would be beneficial to me and I just decided to stick it out. Of course some of my teammates joined me in going to South Alabama and my tight ends coach Richard Owens was also another guy going so that was pretty much my decision made.
RSB: Well now you're immortalized in the South Alabama football facility. You walk in and the first thing you see above the desk in the lobby is your image with the Reese's Senior Bowl logo up there featuring you as a participant. You never would've thought you'd end up immortalized in that program, did you?
Everett: Nah, I didn't think it'd be that big but I just knew I had to keep my head down and keep working. I know I always wanted to be great but I didn't see myself coming to Mobile being a part of South Alabama football but I had a great ride in Mobile for the past two years and they showed me a bunch of stuff and I was glad that I was able to experience things that I went through down there. I've had nothing but life for the Jaguar program.
RSB: And what about getting a chance to get that invitation to the Reese's Senior Bowl. The first time that we met was at your spring game heading into your senior season, you walked up to me trying to get on our radar.
Everett: Yeah, I remember that, man, it was right after the spring game. I know you had the Senior Bowl shirt on and I knew who you were just off Twitter and the articles and stuff. I knew I wanted to participate in the Senior Bowl. I knew it'd be a bunch of guys around the country that were great players and great athletes so I wanted to be a part of that, man, and I thank you guys for giving me that invite giving me a chance to be a part of that.
RSB: What was your favorite part of the Reese's Senior Bowl week?
Everett: I would have to say probably the autograph session. We didn't do much of that at South Alabama. Especially joining all those players from the big time programs around the country, I'm pretty sure they had a chance to do that a bunch of times at their schools but in Mobile that's not something that we were really familiar with. But that along with the interview sessions was probably the most fun moments from the Senior Bowl, in my opinion. Of course we won the game for the south team. But just signing autographs for those fans, seeing the smiles on their faces, it just brought the light to me.
RSB: It's interesting you say the autographs because I remember when the game was over, you were pretty much the last player left out on the field and you're just signing and taking pictures for a lot of fans. How hard was it to actually walk off the field when everything was said and done after playing your last game wearing a college helmet?
Everett: It was crazy, it was kind of surreal. Even now, looking back on it, it's kind of crazy because Ladd was my home stadium in college for my last two years but just being in that stadium one last time was definitely monumental for me. Trying to walk off the field and seeing so many fans recognize who I was and being at home again for the last time and playing in my last college game, it was a crazy environment. I had a bunch of emotions running but I enjoyed it, man, I enjoyed every bit of the game and the practices too. And I just can't thank you guys enough for having me.
RSB: So the Cleveland Browns were your coaching staff on the south squad. That south squad tight end class might've been one of the best position groups we've had in our time. You, O.J. Howard, Evan Engram - a lot of talent at the tight end position this year. What was it like to be around O.J. Howard and how do you see yourself fitting in with the rest of the class?
Everett: Like I said during Senior Bowl week, man, it was a great feeling being in the same room with O.J. and Evan from Ole Miss. Those are some great guys on and off the field. I was glad I had a chance to work with them. They're very humble guys. I'm glad we got a chance to spend some time together in the same meeting room and put our heads together and see what we can come up with. Also, Coach Hudspeth from the Browns, he was coaching us, he did a great job as well with us, showing us what it takes to be successful in the NFL, and just being a great learner and being able to apply the information immediately as soon as you learn it. O.J., he's a great athlete, probably one of the most complete tight ends I've ever seen. He's done some great things at Alabama, same with Evan at Ole Miss, but I just can't wait to see those guys in the NFL. Hopefully we face off a couple times a year.
RSB: And you spent some time with them at the NFL Combine. Take us through the NFL Combine experience and how that compared to the Reese's Senior Bowl week.
Everett: It was pretty similar. I kind of look at it as the Senior Bowl kind of prepared us for what the combine was gonna be like with all the formals and the interviews with teams and all the hectic schedules during the week and practicing. But at the combine, it was kind of easier, I would say. Senior Bowl definitely helped prepare us for that. You take out the practices from the Senior Bowl and that's basically the combine. I definitely feel like it was beneficial to us to be able to go through Senior Bowl to help us get ready for NFL Combine.
RSB: 240 pounds is what you checked in at. I remember when you were 215 pounds and then 225. Everyone questioned whether you'd be heavy enough to be an NFL tight end. It seems like you've kept consistent near that 240 range. Do you feel good at that weight and is that where you plan to play in the future?
Everett: I feel great at this weight. I'm still fluid in the hips, I feel like I'm still quick enough on my feet and being able to stick my foot in the ground and cut any time I need to. I definitely feel like I'm gonna add some more weight eventually in my career whether it be my rookie year or my last year in the league.
RSB: What about your athleticism? We've seen you hurdling, spinning, diving for the end zone. Where does that come from?
Everett: I think it just all kind of cultivated over time throughout all the sports that I've played from sliding in baseball or jumping in basketball or just sprinting in track, just those long jumps in high school, just how it came together. At UAB, I really I didn't get a chance to do much of it but my role kind of expanded once I came to Mobile and was a part of South Alabama football.
RSB: What's the biggest thing that you've learned in this NFL Draft process?
Everett: The biggest thing that I learned is that it's a business and that really you can only control what you can control and just go out and give your best effort each and every day. Especially at the Senior Bowl. We had a bunch of great guys on the south team. I feel like we were a lot more loaded than the north team was. Having that loaded roster, everybody wants to play so dividing the time between everybody and letting everybody get a chance to showcase themselves for the NFL scouts, it just kind of puts it in the sense that the NFL is a business first and then at the end of the day everybody's gotta have fun with it but at the same time, everybody wants to keep their jobs and win. That was probably the biggest thing that I learned at the Senior Bowl and throughout this entire journey.
RSB: You've met with a lot of great coaches too. The one that I want to ask you about specifically is Al Golden from the Detroit Lions. He was a very successful head coach at the college level. What did you know about Coach Golden before he came and spent time with you at your pro day?
Everett: I knew that he was a long-time coach for the Canes. I knew he was a very big-time coach at the University of Miami. When I saw when he went into the league, I didn't even know he was the Lions coach until my long-time friend Kennard Backman had told me that he was his position coach with Detroit. And then it all kind of made sense for me and came together when I saw him at my pro day and at the combine. We spent a lot of time, he helped me out, gave me a couple pointers and we sat down there at the combine and had an interview and a meeting. He's a great guy. I couldn't say enough about Coach Golden. I'm just glad I got a chance to meet him.
RSB: I remember scouting Kennard Backman. I didn't realize that you had a close relationship with him, is he a guy that you've been able to lean on throughout this process and who else have you been able to lean on?
Everett: Definitely. Kennard has probably been the biggest influential person to help me cope with everything ever since I stepped foot on UAB's campus. Day one, he was there and took me under his wing. Even when he went into the draft, he still kept me in his back-pocket. I was just kind of witnessing what it took and the process of how it went. And also, Dom Easley from the Rams, he played at Florida, he was the d-tackle; J.J. Nelson from the Arizona Cardinals also helped me out with this entire process and another guy that I can't forget to mention is Jordan Howard from the UAB team who's on the Bears now - had a great rookie season, Pro Bowler with Ezekiel Elliott. But those guys, they definitely helped me a lot and without them I don't know how I would've handled this entire process and I'm glad that they were in my corner.
RSB: Who was the first person to send you a text or call going crazy congratulating you on the game-winning touchdown over Mississippi State?
Everett: Have to be my auntie, Nicole Wise. She actually predicted that we were gonna win and upset Mississippi State and she felt like I was gonna have a big game. Of course I thought she was just being as supportive as she is. It came down to the wire and she was right there the entire game and she predicted it as crazy as it sounds. She told me I was gonna have a big game and sure enough I did and I was glad I was able to come through for the team.
RSB: You were the star of that game and I remember I asked you about all your star tattoos. What was the story again behind those star tattoos that you have?
Everett: My star tattoos symbolize my friends and I. We all went and got them at the same time. It's just, I have family right on my rib cage and I've got eyes with the star. I have a star right above my chest that's something that my best friend got my sophomore year in college, right after UAB shut down. When I came home, we decided to get that and it's just been kind of a close group of friends type of thing, you know, friends for life. Just something that we did. A bunch of people in my high school also had that thing going but it just kind of seemed like it was a good idea at the time and glad I have that relationship with my friends that they're willing to do something like that with me. It's on me for life so those are my boys for life.
RSB: Is that what it is that motivates you every day, what gets you going every day when you wake up?
Everett: Just my family. I think about my family back home. I wanna make them proud every day I get up whether it be for 6 a.m. run or whether it be pregame before we go out and upset Mississippi State or whatever it is. Even when I was at the combine, I had my family on my mind throughout the entire week. I just wanna make them proud. And also I wanna make my university proud and show the guys under me for years to come, whoever hasn't even gotten to South yet, that it is possible to make it to the NFL combine and be in the NFL Draft from a small school like South Alabama. I just wanna make everybody along the way that I met throughout my crazy journey in college, I wanna make them proud, make them feel the joy that I felt throughout this entire process. Just make them glad that they met me and just give them a show.
RSB: Well we're glad that we met you and we're glad that you're part of the Reese's Senior Bowl fraternity now. You're going to be the first South Alabama player drafted, what's that feeling going to be like?
Everett: Oh man, I don't know. I'm pretty sure it's all gonna hit me at one time. I think I have an NFL film crew that's gonna be at my party when I get the call. I'm gonna just let all the emotion come to me and for those guys at UAB that I was only with for a short span of time, those four months, I think about them all the time and I reflect back on my time in Birmingham. Each time I play football, I think about those guys, that brotherhood that I was a part of for that short span of time and I just go out and be as great as I can.
RSB: It's gonna be an exciting time for you. Make sure you keep that phone charged on draft weekend.
Everett: You know it, Patrick. I appreciate it, man. Thank you.