Arkansas struggled to a 2-10 season in 2018, but senior defensive end Dorian Gerald sees a different attitude among the team this spring.
Following an offseason where several players left, Gerald feels this team is buying into what Chad Morris and his staff are teaching.
“People have got to buy in,” Gerald said. You have to. That was a big thing last year people not buying in. Everyone wasn’t on the same page. I believe we’ve got more guys on the same page and more guys bought in because of that us having to earn everything.”
Part of earning everything was something Morris, Tru Carroll, and the staff put in place in January.
“Well Coach Tru said if we don’t work hard we don’t get it,” Gerald said. “They feel like we have been handed stuff. Whatever we do we have to work hard toward it to earn it. We had to earn shoes, shirts, shorts, everything. If you don’t work hard you don’t get it.”
Other than buying in, what has been maybe the biggest improvement in the program since last season?
“The training,” Gerald said. “When we got here a lot of people weren’t in shape. Definitely, the training and nutrition have been a huge difference in me losing a whole bunch of fat. I was huge last season. I got to trim down a lot and trim a lot of fat to muscle.”
What did you weigh when you got here and what do you weigh now?
“When I originally got here I was 280 now I’m 269,” Gerald said. “So it makes a lot of difference.”
Other than the weight loss, what has been the biggest transformation for you?
“I’m mentally prepared a lot,” Gerald said. “We have been put through and a lot of stuff and they have prepared us to be mentally stronger.”
The team has had two practices now. A lot of new going on in the program, how is it going?
“I feel we moved around well as a team,” Gerald said. “I wasn’t here for spring ball last year, but I think we definitely moved better than when I got here in fall camp. We moved pretty good.”
Gerald started the final two games of 2018. How did that benefit you?
“Experience,” Gerald said. “Everything that was huge for me. Just going in knowing what to expect and now I know what to expect.”
Gerald played in eight games as a junior.
He finished with 21 tackles, including 8 solo 2.5 tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and a pair of quarterback hurries.
Gerald came to Arkansas from College of the Canyons (Calif.) and was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.
In two seasons at junior college, Gerald had 96 tackles, 43 for loss, 22 sacks, five pass breakups, six forced fumbles and recovered two.
He chose the Hogs over Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Tennessee among others.