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Dorian Gerald is the latest in a flurry of seniors to announce he’ll return to Arkansas for another season.
Sharing his decision via Twitter, the defensive end from South Carolina is the seventh to make his intentions known since Christmas.
Running back T.J. Hammonds, wide receiver De’Vion Warren and tight end Blake Kern each announced on Monday, while linebacker Grant Morgan and offensive linemen Myron Cunningham and Ty Clary did so over the previous three days.
This is actually the second time Gerald’s stint in Fayetteville has been extended by a year. Originally a JUCO transfer from the College of the Canyons in California, he figured to play just two seasons with the Razorbacks.
After turning down Texas A&M and signing with Arkansas in the Class of 2018, Gerald took some time before establishing himself as a contributor during his junior year.
There was a brief setback because of an ankle injury, but Gerald eventually worked his way into the starting lineup for the final two games of the 2018 season. He actually posted a team-high 71.4 defensive grade in his first start, notching three pressures against Mississippi State.
That gave him some momentum going into his senior season, as he was an unquestioned starter at defensive end. Granted it was against an FCS opponent, but Gerald got off to a hot start in 2019, generating five pressures on just 20 snaps against Portland State.
Unfortunately, his season ended just before halftime of that game when he suffered a freak injury that was described as a bruised artery. He redshirted the rest of the year and came back as a fifth-year senior in 2020.
It was deja vu, though, as he suffered an apparent ankle injury after just 29 snaps in the opener against Georgia this year. Gerald had a couple of sacks and a hurry before getting hurt.
Although he managed to return to the field, Gerald has clearly not been at full strength. He appeared in four of the final six games of the regular season, but played only 73 total snaps. After earning a 66.8 grade from Pro Football Focus against Georgia, he graded out at 31.0 since returning to action.
Head coach Sam Pittman has made it no secret that he is looking for a more effect pass rusher at defensive end for next season and there’s a chance – if he can get and stay healthy – that Gerald could provide that in 2021.
Although he was a fifth-year senior this season, Gerald is able to return to school for a sixth season because of a rule change by the NCAA. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, all football players have been granted an extra year of eligibility, regardless of how much they played this season.
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