Gamecocks' Jerideau looks to NFL draft opportunity

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- The next week of former Gamecocks defensive tackle and Colleton County High School grad Byron Jerideau can be summed up in one word -- waiting.

The massive, two-year starter for South Carolina waits and hopes to hear his name called during this weekend's NFL Draft.

"It's nerve racking, that's why I'm here. I come in from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. every day just to get my mind off of it. If I'm at the house, all I do is think about it," he said.{}

From his home away from home in the Williams-Brice Stadium weight room, where he has always spent a good amount of his time in Columbia, Jerideau said he's hoping for the best.{}

His 37 bench press repetitions at USC's pro day rate him second in the entire NFL Draft field.{}

"That and speed," said Jerideau. "I'm 335 pounds and I have quick feet. Scouts say that they like watching me at pro day. They see me going through bags and like watching my feet for a big guy.{} We watch film. They see that I can block the run but also when the play is away from me, I can run to the ball."{}

Jerideau has been doing more flying than running these days. He's visited with the San Diego Chargers, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans.

But he's never forgotten from where he came. From a childhood in rural Green Pond, S.C., to Fort Scott, Kansas, for junior college, the Gamecock has logged thousands of miles in his career.{}

"Knowing you are 14 or 15 hours from home, it makes you want to work harder to be close to family. Some days I wanted to quit. I called my mom and she said, 'Byron, stick with it,'" Jerideau said.{}

Talk about dreams becoming reality, Jerideau has had visions of this week for years. They started with another Colleton County native who made it to the NFL.{}

"I'll never forget my first practice at Colleton County High School. Darwin Walker came and spoke.{} He said to push for your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. I've kept that in my head ever since. I've told myself I'm going to be the next one," he said.{}

Jerideau's done the work, now the hardest work is the wait.