SUWANEE, Ga. -- When Georgia fans heard there was a 6-foot-5, 317-pound offensive tackle named DeVondre Seymour at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga., the first question posed was, “Is he related to Richard?”
Richard in this case is six-time NFL Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who was twice voted All-SEC while playing for the Bulldogs. The fans were breathless when they found out DeVondre was indeed related to Richard, as the havoc-inducing Oakland Raider had adopted his nephew DeVondre as his own son.
Unlike the sons of other famous athletes, DeVondre has so far been able to avoid the limelight surrounding his father. Basically, he didn’t register in fans' minds because he didn’t play football until recently and was very raw. But that has changed, and now the younger Seymour is turning heads.
“Wow, from when I first started, oh, man, there has been a dramatic change,” DeVondre Seymour said. “The head coach has seen a big change in me. We were talking about it the other day when I was working out. When I first got here I couldn’t run even one gasser, but now I am getting it and I keep working hard.”
That hard work has translated into offers from Georgia, South Carolina, USF and Virginia. Seymour was in Athens recently to check out his father’s alma mater.
“I like what they are planning on doing over the next couple years. It seems like a really nice school,” Seymour said. “They are going to get better football wise, better academically and win more games. They are going to push their players and students to the next level.”
Seymour’s visit included spending time with offensive line coach Will Friend.
“Coach Friend is a nice, cool, laid-back guy," Seymour said. "He seems down to earth. He can push you to the next level and I can have fun while I’m there. Coach Friend told me he liked the length of my arms. He was amazed by it.”
Athens is just one of the stops that Seymour will make on his tour of schools this spring.
“I’d like to get down to LSU. It seems like a nice school. I want to see Alabama,” Seymour said. “I visited South Carolina last week and it was pretty fun.”
Georgia fans who are hoping to buy tickets for “Between the Hedges: Seymour Part II,” will just have to be patient.
“I have slowed things down a little bit. I just don’t know right now, it is pretty hard,” Seymour said. “I am just going to wait it out and see what is best for me.”
One thing that has not slowed down is Seymour’s development on the field.
“His progress has really accelerated,” North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire said. “He is having a great offseason. His whole body physique is changing. His numbers in the weight room are going up every day.
“You can just see that his movement is getting to be so much more fluid. He is looking like the potential that we targeted him to have. He may be every bit of 320 pounds but he carries it really well. I am very pleased with his foot work but even more so with the strength development we are starting to see.”
Sphire realizes that Seymour wasn’t on a lot of the junior watch lists, but he knows that won’t affect the offers that are likely to come.
“I think there was enough on his tape out of this year to show what he is going to be able to do. And he was competing every Friday night against some outstanding defensive lineman and at a pretty high level,” Sphire said.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that he played the last portion of that season with a fracture in his lower leg. He just gutted through it and wasn’t as mobile as he would have been. But that was also part of his progression as a football player; you have to be durable but you’ve got to be tough through injuries too.”
North Gwinnett always has a lot of college coaches stopping by in the spring and fall. Sphire never tells any of his players where they should go, but he does try to help them through the process.
“More than anything DeVondre doesn’t need to get in a hurry,” Sphire said. “The sky is the limit for him. And not that I want him to, but if he wanted to go all the way to signing day I think he would still have most everybody on the table, one, because of the potential that he has. And the position he plays is such a hard get.”
Wherever Seymour goes, he is excited about the prospect of his dad being at more of his games.
“I am pretty sure he will be here through the whole way. I think he will move back down here after his contract is up,” Seymour said. “It will be fun looking up in the stands and seeing him there. He tells me to keep working hard, keep grinding. Know that things are going to get in the way but focus on my last year of high school and helping my team win a couple more games and hopefully go to the state championship. Just take it day by day.”
Father knows best.