The Eagles took the second best safety in college football in the fifth round of April’s NFL Draft and have been playing him at linebacker this spring.
In one of the final reps of mandatory minicamp Thursday Nate Gerry, a rookie from Nebraska (the only Cornhusker taken in the draft), made a leaping off balance interception off of Carson Wentz and darted past the rest of his teammates in a seven-on-seven drill to the end zone.
The positional switch could turn out to be a brilliant move by the Eagles front office.
“I think right now I am trying to get comfortable with a new positon change and understand the new scheme,” Gerry said, packing his locker up for a five-week escape from the NovaCare Coplex before training camp starts on July 24. “Each day I feel more comfortable. I feel like I get back to my old, self making plays and today was one of those days.”
Playing linebacker professionally after playing safety in college so well is a difficult leap for an athlete to make. But pursuing an NFL dream will lead a young man to do whatever it takes to succeed.
“Right now I am trying to soak everything in,” Gerry said. “For me it’s a dream come true. Coming from South Dakota, not a lot of kids get a chance to do this.”
He has help, with his locker right in between those of Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham, each stepping up to help mentor the young linebacker prospect.
“I think Nigel and Mike have helped me the most they are both veteran guys,” Gerry said. “They have been here and have done it. Being able to ask quetions, I like to sit behind them watching film so I can pop them on the shoulder and ask them something.”
Gerry is en route to his hometown in South Dakota, where his father works as a trainer at a Division-II college. He’ll work with the team and study his playbook while enjoying the northern summer. He’ll be a short hop away from Carson Wentz’ hometown in North Dakota, where the quarterback plans to welcome all of his receiving teammates for his annual passing retreat.
Two NFL players from the Dakotas. What are the odds?
“We’ve got to be the only team in the NFL ever to have a North and South Dakota player on the same team,” he said with a grin and with pride of place.