FORT VALLEY, Ga. -- When the subject of the Furr brothers comes up to Fort Valley State coach Donald Pittman, a slow steady smile creeps on to his face and the words seems to flow just a bit easier.
"The Furr brothers love the game of football," Pittman said. "They are beasts on the field and gentlemen off the field. They go to class every day, and they have been on a mission to succeed since they came to us. There is no doubt that they are the leaders of our defense."
The arrival of the Furr brothers two years ago has indeed turned out to be a blessing for the Fort Valley State defense. Both transferred in from big-time football programs.
DeRon, who will play safety this year, started his college career at Auburn before heading to Memphis, where he became a starter. When things soured, he decided to play his final two years at Fort Valley State with his brother. He is now a graduate student with one year of eligibility remaining.
Younger brother LeRon, who has been named a preseason All-American at linebacker, went to Oklahoma State out of high school and, after being redshirted in 2009, earned playing time as a freshman before suffering a severe knee injury at practice.
"We had always talked about getting to play together again, and things just worked out that we both were looking for a place to play," said DeRon Furr, who will be starting at Fort Valley State for the second straight year. "I don't think either one of us has any regrets the way things have worked out, and we are trying to make this team something special. It's great to be on the field with him because I do know his tendencies, and that helps out. He is an extremely talented football player."
LeRon Furr insists that he doesn't miss playing Division I football, although he does see a slight difference.
"The only real difference is maybe the speed of the game," said LeRon Furr, who has grown into a solid NFL-sized linebacker at 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds. "It's really not that big of a change, though, because most of the teams we play are very good. I love getting the chance to play football with my brother for one more year, and we all think this team has a chance to be very good."
Fort Valley State has developed a high school pipeline of sorts from Carver in recent years, starting with the Furr brothers and including two more transfers coming in this year, Darius Lamar and Ryan Campbell, as well as an incoming freshman, Rashad McCarter.
"We have a great relationship with the coaches at Carver, but LeRon and DeRon also have a lot to do with it," Pittman said. "These other players see the success they are having here and want to come join them. They have made it much easier on me to recruit from that area."
DeRon Furr said he has lofty goals for the season.
"We don't want to have any regrets after the season is over," DeRon Furr said. "We will take it one game at a time, and we feel like anything can happen. We are a very close knit team, and we feel like we can go farther than last year."