34: The number to look out for

After a stellar start to the 2017 season, Jeff Gemmell is a name to know on the field

| October 3, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

Jeff Gemmell snags the ball after a play during the N.C. A&T game. Photo by Chris Crews

The 2017 season has been a dream come true for Jeff Gemmell. After finding success in his new position and becoming a new leader for the 49ers, number 34 is definitely one to get familiar with.

The spring game this past April was Charlotte’s first time hitting the field without all of the 2017 seniors that Gemmell had known and work with for the past two years. Since he played throughout the 2016 season, the redshirt sophomore got the chance to learn and grow with them.

“It was definitely different because up until that point, those guys had always been around, and not having them there was just a little bit different,” Gemmell said. “I won’t say it was bad, I won’t say it was good, you know it was just a new experience.”

One of Gemmell’s biggest influences from the 2017 class was senior linebacker Nick Cook. Cook finished off his career on the field by setting a 49er record for the number of solo tackles in a single game and number of tackles in an FBS game. Though he graduated last year from the program, Cook is still on staff working with the players on strength and conditioning.

“I’ll go down there and say, ‘hey man can you give me some tips on how you prepare for game week?’ or ‘hey man can you, you know, tell me how you analyze this film, how you break down this film?’ It’s definitely a big key for me having him there. He helps me out a lot,” Gemmell said.

Though Cook is still around in the fieldhouse and ready to help, he is not the only thing that has played a factor in Gemmell’s success so far this season.

“This summer I really just worked on my flexibility, worked on my strength and conditioning well, really focused on film study too,” Gemmell said.

He spent the 2016 season playing outside linebacker, but this fall he made the switch and s tarted as an inside linebacker.

“I’ve played football ever since I was six years old and I’ve never, I’ve played middle linebacker maybe one time throughout that time,” Gemmell said.

There is a lot to learn when making the switch from the outside to the inside of the defensive lineup, and Gemmell realized all of the work it would take to be a dependable teammate.

“Being in the middle of the defense you kind of have to know every moving part. I know what everybody on our defense does now compared to last year where I was really just focused on what I was doing,” Gemmell added.

Although he played in every game last season, he still hadn’t recorded his first career start as a 49er. That all changed in the season opener at Eastern Michigan.

“I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking and dreaming about that, praying for that my whole life and it finally came to existence this year and it was just, [I] couldn’t be more blessed,” Gemmell said.

He was one point away from tripling his record tackles in a single game (five vs Elon) by grabbing 14 in his first start at EMU.

“I can’t give any, any glory to anyone but God honestly, that’s really the only reason,” Gemmell said.

After only four starts for the 49ers, Gemmell understands the pressure and expectations of being out on the field with the other members of the Charlotte defense. He has found his niche on the team, and works hard every week to be someone his teammates can count on.

“I’m a guy who likes to lead through his actions. On the field I think playing middle linebacker, and playing next to Karrington, I feel like I have a responsibility to my teammates to kind of fulfill that leadership role,” Gemmell said.

Gemmell prefers to lead by his action, not his voice.

“I haven’t always been a big vocal guy, but I’m a guy who will show up to work every single day, and lead through my actions,” Gemmell said.

As he continues to put in work on and off the field in his second season, Gemmell has high hopes for the football program throughout the rest of his college career. He knows firsthand the hard work that he and his teammates put in, and he believes that it will all pay off.

“I think, you know, as the next few years come upon us, one of my main goals is just to get to a bowl game, win a conference championship, you know,” Gemmell said. “Coach Lamberts done a great job with us as a team and I feel like we, we owe it to him and all of our fans, to go out there and be a successful program.”

With about two-thirds of the season left, the 49ers still have a decent number of games to play. Gemmell is not one to look too far past the weekend that lies ahead of him because he likes to focus all of his energy on the next game.

The linebacker is looking forward to a game however, not for a specific reason, but for a feeling.

“If I had to pick one game, I’d probably say Southern Miss, because we went down there last year, it was definitely a good experience last year going down there and beating those guys,” Gemmell said. “Definitely felt successful when we went down there, so I’m trying to, you know, I’m ready for that feeling again.”

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Category:Football, Sports

Veronica Shoemaker is a freshman at UNC Charlotte from Livonia Michigan. She packed up her life and moved down to North Carolina to chase a career in NASCAR. She is a Communications major with minors in Spanish and Journalism, a huge sports fan, and a writer for the Niner Times sport section. Even though she moved to Charlotte, she still cheers on her Detroit Red Wings every week.

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Veronica Shoemaker is a freshman at UNC Charlotte from Livonia Michigan. She packed up her life and moved down to North Carolina to chase a career in NASCAR. She is a Communications major with minors in Spanish and Journalism, a huge sports fan, and a writer for the Niner Times sport section. Even though she moved to Charlotte, she still cheers on her Detroit Red Wings every week.

Twitter