Back in 2012 Gerhard de Beer headed over to the US, hoping to make it big in the athletics game.
At the time he was a discus competitor, and had already chalked up a bronze at the 2012 World Junior Athletics Championships.
Of course, having gone to Affies, he dabbled in rugby, but ending up in the NFL wasn’t exactly on his radar.
Fast forward six years and the 145 kilogram, 2,01 metre tall man mountain has been snapped up by the Buffalo Bills, having made a name for himself as a linebacker for university side the Arizona Wildcats over the past few years.
23-year-old Gerhard was actually studying towards a degree in economy and industry, but now that he has cracked the big time that can go on the back burner.
The Citizen picked up on this one:
Should his career in the NFL take off, he will be one of only a handful South Africans to play gridiron at the highest level. Gary Anderson was the first South African to appear in a regular season NFL game and ended up playing for more than two decades, with his longest stint at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
De Beer did initially make strides in athletics, recording the fourth-longest discus throw in Arizona’s history (61.95m) and finishing fourth at the national student championships in 2016 before retiring to focus on his newfound love. But he does admit it was a steep learning curve, having never played the game before settling in the States…
“It took me a year and a bit just to understand the concepts of the offensive line, let alone the rest of the game of football,” De Beer told the Heslop Sports website last year, adding that he had to ask team-mate Luca Bruno about the very basics of the game.
“I had to ask him how to put on my pads and he looked at me all funny. He’d say, ‘Are you serious?’”
That seems like an age ago, because since then he has shone in his new athletic endeavour.
Here’s a video, from back in 2016, that shows he hasn’t quite lost that Pretoria accent:
There’s a little twang there, though.
As for how he deals with people pronouncing his name correctly – a sense of humour goes a long way:
That struggle is real.
Good luck out there, big man, and if you happen to bump into Gift Ngoepe along the way send us a selfie.
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