Perseverance certainly paid off for Gryphon centre Colin Jerome.
Now in his fourth season with the team, the North Bay native spent two years on the scout team before getting to suit up for league play last year. This year he’s the starting centre.
“It was just my love for the game,” he said after a practice session this week. “I’ve definitely got a lot of stuff to work on. This is my first year at centre. I played right guard last year. My snaps have been a little inconsistent and I’m just hoping to get better, work on my footwork and work on my speed.”
While it’s his first year at centre with the Gryphons, it’s not his first year at that position. He switched positions last year in order to get into some games.
“I came in as a centre so I have a background in it,” he said. “It’s definitely my natural position. I definitely fit in well at centre and I’ve enjoyed the move back to centre. It was a good move for me.”
His knowledge of every position on the entire offensive line helped in his change both from centre and then back to centre.
“Moving to right guard was definitely a change, but as a centre you’ve got to be able to go both ways, left and right,” he said. “Moving to right guard was schematically a little different, but as a centre I knew most of the positions on the O line so moving there was a little bit of a change, but nothing I wasn’t able to handle.”
At 6-foot-1 and 290 pounds, Jerome isn’t the biggest offensive lineman on the Gryphons, let alone the league, so he’s had to work to be able to hold his ground during the games.
“Definitely speed is something I use to my advantage and I spent a lot of time in the weight room this summer to get my strength up to be able to compete with guys that are a lot taller and a lot bigger than I am,” he said. “Speed and strength are what help me out here.”
A thirst for knowledge and a desire to play kept him going during his time on the scout team.
“Centre is a learning process, especially at the (U Sports) level,” Jerome said. “I thought that if I just stuck with it, I’d have a good shot in the next couple of years and I’d learn the system and what was going on out there.”
The scout team is the one that usually goes up against the starters in practice. However, if you’re on scout team you’re trying to show the tendencies of the opposing team’s players and you’re not spending much time on your own team’s schemes.
“You’re not getting the same amount of reps as you’re not with the first group,” Jerome said. “I tried to stay on top of my playbook and what was going on on offence when I was on scout team. It’s tough to do both, but you are able to stay on top of it.”
The Gryphons are preparing to play the Waterloo Warriors Saturday afternoon at Waterloo and are looking to put their Homecoming loss to the McMaster Marauders behind them.
“We’ve got a lot of competitors here who are looking to respond,” Jerome said. “We’ve just got to come out and do what we do best, do the little things and I think we should come out on top the rest of the season.”
And they don’t dwell on any game that’s already been played, whether it was a win or a loss.
“It’s definitely tough, but we have a 24-hour rule. We come in the next day, we go over the film and we’re right into our next opponent and we definitely don’t look back on what happened last weekend. We’re always moving forward,” Jerome said. “You can’t dwell on stuff. You’ve got to grow from it to get better and just keep moving forward.”
They also don’t look at the past when thinking about their next opponent. At 4-1, this year’s Warriors can’t be compared to any of the winless Waterloo squads of the past few years.
“In the past, they were starting back up from fresh so they were in the bottom tier, but this year they’ve really stepped up,” Jerome said. “They proved to the league that they’re a top competitor. We’re not taking them lightly this year. This is going to be a tough game and we’re really looking forward to the competition. We’re taking them just as if we were playing Mac or Western.”