The last few weeks of summer always make Tyler Gerald antsy. By this point, he’s tired of practicing against his teammates. He’s ready to put on his royal blue jersey, take the field and seek out fresh blood.
Nothing is new this summer, with one exception — Gerald is hundreds of miles away from his hometown.
It’s been about six months since the Ohio State recruit and Sciotoville native moved to Florida and transferred to IMG Academy, and Gerald is already seeing results.
“I’ve increased in skill level tenfold. I’ve gotten so much better from being down there,” he said.
Last winter, Gerald spent weeks struggling with the decision to leave East High School and transfer to prep sports academy IMG in Bradenton, Florida. Finally, in late December, he confirmed that he was would make the move south.
“You never want to leave your hometown. Going to Ohio State and being an Ohio kid, you don’t really want to leave and go down somewhere where it’s not the same,” Gerald told the Daily Times in December. “But I think it’s going to be the best option for me to really be successful in what I want to do.”
Upon arrival at IMG, the senior offensive guard jumped in to the program head first. He said it took a few weeks to adjust to the school’s rigorous workload.
“You’re in the weight room at five or six o’clock in the morning, then you go straight from there to school, straight from school to films, straight from film to field work, straight from field work to eat, straight from eating to study hall, and then sleep. That’s every single day,” he said.
But, even though he has yet to play a single snap for the Ascender football team, Gerald is already reaping the benefits. He said he’s lost about 35 pounds of fat, gained 30 pounds of pure muscle, and cut his 40-yard dash time down to 5.1 seconds.
Gerald also says the extensive film work at IMG has allowed him to become a smarter football player. The Ascenders run an offensive scheme similar to what Gerald will see at Ohio State, something he hopes to take advantage of upon early graduation in January.
“I feel like IMG is going to make it where I get very early playing time at Ohio State. I’m starting to learn (Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed) Warinner’s verbage and linebacker calls.” he said.
Despite receiving offers from Penn State, Alabama, Florida State and Maryland since his arrival at IMG, Gerald remains fully committed to Ohio State. He has just two credits remaining at IMG, and expects to graduate in the winter and arrive in Columbus for spring practices.
IMG has challenged Gerald in the classroom as well. He says that IMG’s academics are “maybe even more challenging than what we’ve done on the field.” The school has also taught him the importance of time management, another skill that will help him at the next level.
“I’ve gotten better in every aspect of the game, even more than just the game of football: managing my time. managing classes, how to study extra for a class, really just work,” he said.
IMG operates outside of the Florida High School Athletic Association, meaning they can schedule an unlimited number of games against the country’s best high school competition. Each year, the Ascenders play one of the toughest schedules in the country hoping to earn an undefeated season and be named “National Champions” from various media outlets.
The Ascenders will play multiple nationally-televised games this season, starting on Aug. 30 when they host Miramar (Fl.) in the 2015 ESPN High School Football Kickoff at 2 p.m. Gerald will also compete in the Under Armour All-America Game in January on ESPN.
Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter