Senior deals with position changeover
On the eve of national signing day in 2010, Jeremy Deering had two choices laid in front of him during a local press conference: Rutgers and Florida State.
When the Tampa native chose the former, he never envisioned he would spend his senior season on defense for the Rutgers football team.
“I expected to be on offense all four years to tell you the truth,” the senior safety said. “But you never know what the future holds for you, and you just have to take it as it comes.”
That attitude made him a member of the Scarlet Knights’ secondary, a unit on the forefront of criticism all season during the Knights’ 5-6 campaign.
Rutgers’ last line of defense allowed 326 yards per game so far this season, good for second to last in the nation. Only California allows more.
Injuries, a suspension, a transfer and youth are all culprits for Rutgers’ woes.
For Deering, his problems lie in the lack of experience at the position. The Leto (Fla.) High School product said he and head coach Kyle Flood spoke about the move to safety from receiver during spring drills.
The change was two-fold. It provided Rutgers depth at the position after it lost starter, and now New England Patriot, Duron Harmon to graduation. It also provided Deering with a chance for an expanded role.
As far as rating how Deering fared in his transition, Flood uses a wait-and-see approach.
“You know, right now, Jeremy has worked very hard every week to become a better safety every week,” Flood said. “… At times I think he would tell you he could probably play it better. But the overall evaluation, we’ll wait until the end of the season for that.”
In nine starts this season at strong safety, Deering has 37 tackles. His lone interception of the year came in the end zone Oct. 10 against Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.
“I feels very comfortable. It feels just like another day going out there and playing football,” Deering said.
Early in Deering’s career, an evaluation of his production seemed obsolete.
Deering was the Knights’ second-leading rusher in 2010 during his freshman season, as former head coach Greg Schiano used him in “Wild Knight” packages. The “Wild Knight” proved to be the most effective way for Rutgers to generate offense during its 4-8 season.
Deering finished that season with 352 rushing yards and two scores along with 338 receiving yards and one touchdown through the air.
But Schiano moved Deering to receiver the following season, resulting in Deering getting lost in the depth chart. During his sophomore and junior seasons, Deering was primarily used on kick returns.
It was not the senior season Deering expected, sighting that playing offense is one of the factors as to why he chose Rutgers over Florida State and a host of other suitors.
He is past that now, and with the possibility of his career ending Saturday against South Florida, there is no time to look back.
“At one point, it was frustrating,” Deering said. “But when I thought about it, why should I be frustrated? There’s no reason to be frustrated, it’s just like life. It throws you some curve balls and something you don’t expect, you can’t just go in the tank. You have to take it as it is. You never know where it’s going to take you.”
The Daily Targum ranked the top 10 players in the Rutgers football team’s senior class. The Targum will reveal more of the countdown throughout the week before revealing the complete list in Friday’s GameDay issue.