Dexter getting side work with local trainer

May 20, 2021 | 0 comments

Sophomore defensive lineman Gervon Dexter continues putting in the work to become a top-tier defender for the University of Florida.

Now that spring practice is in the books, he has turned to working with former Jackson State defensive lineman and local product Luis McLeod. He played for the Eastside Hurricanes in the mid-to-late 2000s, growing up with Gainesville High School talent and Gators defensive back Vernell Brown and was teammates with Vernell’s younger brother Vince Brown.

McLeod had a cup of coffee in the NFL thanks to a training camp invite from the New Orleans Saints. He also spent a few years playing arena football in Sioux Falls and for the Green Bay Blizzard.

After his playing days ended, McLeod turned to coaching with a start in Houston, Texas where he worked with players who hardly knew anything about the game. Through some Gainesville connections and hard work, he’s worked with the likes of Brett Heggie, Tedarrell Slaton, Marlon Dunlap, Kyree Campbell, and Adam Shuler. Plus, his latest work’s been with Princely Umanmielen, Dante Lang, and of course Dexter.

He’s only worked with Dexter for a little while, but it didn’t take long for the former five-star out of Lake Wales to make an impression with his size. That’s something that doesn’t happen often to McLeod.

“He made me feel small,” the 6-foot-4, 330-pound McLeod joked. “I worked with a lot of people, some guys in the league, but he is like legit a giant.”

Not only that but Dexter’s athleticism and get-off for his size amazed McLeod. Not many players can move the way he does at 6-foot-6 and 308 pounds.

McLeod and Dexter began working around March and April and have seen each other about three times so far. They spend about two hours or so per session working on things such as hand fighting, positioning, and basic agility.

McLeod knows there isn’t a whole lot of time in practice for players, whether in high school, college, or the pros, to work on the things he teaches like technique and such.

“I try to tell the kids ‘No matter what level you’re on, if you just stick to practicing what the coach is going to give you that doesn’t get you that far,’” he said. “So, working on that with a trainer or yourself you definitely have to perfect your craft pretty much like muscle memory.”

And McLeod saw a change in one of his newest students just in the short time the two spent together so far. One aspect McLeod put plenty of work in with Dexter was hand movement. Mastery of that might just put Dexter over the top.

“I feel like once his hands in the hand-fighting and hand combat… once it gets A1, I think he's definitely going to be unstoppable because he already has the strength,” he said. “… there’s not many his size that can do what he can do.”

Dexter’s intangibles also impressed McLeod. He saw Dexter’s leadership ability when going through drills. McLeod spoke on how humble and respectable he was. He saw Dexter pushing and congratulating some of the linemen out there who weren’t his teammates.

Plus, he loves how coachable the young man is and his knack for constantly pursuing improvement; something you can’t say for every player with his size and notoriety. Not to mention, he’s training with McLeod after going through his first-ever spring camp too.

“I know a lot of those guys were tired after the spring,” McLeod said. “Coming in and getting that work (in) after the spring where other kids go off and maybe take a break, that was pretty big for me.”

Gator fans might see Dexter at a new position at nose tackle. The goal for McLeod though is to get Dexter to able to play basically any of the techniques whether it’s the zero, one, two, three, four or five. Once, if he gets more weight on him and improves his handwork then he can really take on double teams from that position.

Dexter and Florida defensive line coach David Turner know it will come with time and hard work.

“He’s a work in progress, but everybody wants him to be great now,” Turner said during a spring press conference in March. “I said, ‘Hey man, you can’t walk around here with the way everybody looks at you just from a physical standpoint and expect to just wreck shop every Saturday.’ That’s really not what he can do yet because he’s still new to the game. This is only his fourth year playing football.”

McLeod believes he can wreck shop every Saturday because he has the ability and the attitude to get to that skill level.

And that’s part of McLeod’s journey too: helping young men achieve their potential whether it be Dexter, players in Houston where he lives or even out in the town of Hawthorne where Cornelius Ingram has a few who deserve some looks.

Time will only tell but it seems Dexter’s on the right path.

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Tags: Sport

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