By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
Los Angeles Rams rookie tight end Gerald Everett could have used a road map to literally and figuratively find his way to the NFL.
Picking up the game of football as a high school senior in Decatur, Georgia, Everett hasn’t put it down since. And frankly, before he made his way to South Alabama University in 2015, it would have been understandable if he had done so.
After enrolling first at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, Everett then traveled to Kansas where he attended two separate community colleges, Butler and Hamilton. That was followed by transferring to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where in 2014; he stepped onto the field for the first time since high school. He caught 17 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown during his only season before the UAB football program was shut down.
Finally making his way to South Alabama, Everett played there for two seasons – hauling in 90 receptions for 1,292 yards and 12 touchdowns – and was named All-Sun Belt Conference each year.
“I love the game of football and I try to finish everything that I start. That was one of the key things that my family preached to me as a kid growing up. Don’t leave anything undone,” Everett said. “So, just staying dedicated to the game of football and just persevering through everything that’s thrown my way, I believed from the beginning that it would make me a better person and a better athlete in the end. I just stuck with the process.
“I learned that I’m tougher than I thought I was. I learned that I’m very competitive. I didn’t realize how competitive I was until I actually got cut by (Butler C.C.). Well, I wouldn’t say they cut me. They released me. They didn’t have room on the roster, so to speak. I just told myself that I wasn’t going to let one school stop me from chasing my dream.
“I stayed and took classes that semester and it actually proved to be beneficial for me. I transferred the following semester to (Hutchinson C.C.) and that’s where I finished my associate’s degree.”
Everett would earn a bachelor’s degree in communications at South Alabama, which was not only part of his goal, but also fulfilled a promise he’d made to his mom.
“I wanted to play Division I football and graduate from college, and I did that,” Everett said. “So, once I did that, I decided to continue to pursue (playing) on a professional level and I was blessed enough to be able to do that, as well.”
Los Angeles’ top pick, Everett went into “work mode” almost immediately after his name was announced by Rams legendary defensive end Jack Youngblood at this year’s Draft in Philadelphia. And by moving from college to college, Everett found that he had to prove himself over and over. Those experiences as a vagabond have helped him be able to prove himself again as a Ram.
“It’s a combination of learning new systems over and over and being able to translate the information that I was given and put it towards the football field,” said Everett, who was chosen in the second round with the 44th overall pick. “That and learn all the new playbooks and develop relationships with my teammates. I believe that has helped me a lot especially on the professional level.
“Being able to adapt to any situation (is one of my strongest assets). That and my competitive nature. I’ve had that ever since I was a little kid. I didn’t want to lose at anything.”
Six games into his career, Everett has caught seven passes for 154 yards, a 22 yards-per-catch average, and a touchdown. What about the NFL has he found to be eye-opening?
“Just the level of competition that everybody plays with especially going against different teams who are known to win more games than others,” Everett said. “And just seeing all these players that I grew up watching on film and idolizing and hoping to go against them one day, and finally being able to do it.”