Wednesday, July 28, 2010


(DerJuan Gambrell photo by Scott Grau/

TOLEDO — When Toledo Rogers defensive back DerJuan Gambrell steps on the football field you immediately take notice.

The 6-foot-2, 180 pound athlete is electrifying, he has blazing speed, lightning quickness, incredible leaping ability and gritty toughness. Gambrell is the definition of what every coach looks for in a defensive back.

Not bad for a kid whose nickname is "Peewee."

Gambrell, who will be entering his senior season at Rogers this fall, has been Mr. Everything for the Rams during his high school career. He has played quarterback, running back and wide receiver at Rogers, and has shown an ability to find his way to the end zone. In 2009 — his junior season — Gambrell scored seven touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball.

However, it is in the defensive backfield where Gambrell makes the most noise. After recording more than 50 tackles and an interception in 2009, the class of 2011 product began getting some serious attention from some big-time collegiate programs.

The talented Gambrell didn't waste much time deciding where he wanted to play his college ball, though, selecting Ohio State as his school back in March.

"Ohio State was the place for me in many ways," Gambrell told The Buckeye Times on Tuesday. "I wanted to go to a school that could make me a better person on and off the field. I also felt that if I wanted to be the best I had to learn from the best coaches in the country."

Gambrell said that his relationship with OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson cemented his decision.

"Me and Coach Johnson just had that connection when I came down a weekend to visit," Gambrell said. "I understood him clearly."

Gambrell said that his ultimate goal is to play in the National Football League, so choosing a school who could get him there was a major priority to the speedy defensive back.

"I knew in the last couple years the Buckeyes have been having DB's move on to the next level," Gambrell said. "So I wanted to give myself a chance to learn what they were teaching their guys."

But before Gambrell makes his way to Columbus, he will first focus on helping his current team make a run to the post-season. And "Peewee" has some giant expectations for his senior year.

"My goal for my final year at Rogers is simple ... State Championship!" Gambrell said. "We made it to the first round and lost and that felt so crazy to me. I promised my coach (Ric) Rios that we are going back and making a run in the playoffs."

Of course he still has time to dream about the day he puts on the scarlet and gray uniform, and with that great class of recruits coming in with him in 2011, who could blame the kid?

"I want to remember my career at Ohio State as being a national champion," Gambrell said. "Along with the great class that's coming in with me."

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