Alabama receiver Gehrig Dieter wears a black Fitbit on his left arm. It’s there to track his sleeping patterns, not his steps. Alabama’s grueling two-a-day practices make sure he gets enough of those.
Dieter has never been one to worry about steps. After all, he took a pretty big one when he decided to transfer from Bowling Green and spend his senior season at Alabama.
Dieter enters the season on the preseason watch list for the Biletnikoff Award after hauling in 94 receptions for 1,033 yards and 10 touchdowns for Bowling Green last season.
Had he stayed with the Falcons, Dieter would have had an opportunity to better those numbers, moving in to the No. 1 receiver role after the departure of Roger Lewis to the NFL. Instead, Dieter chose Alabama, a team stacked at the wide receiver position, including a fellow Biletnikoff watch lister in sophomore Calvin Ridley.
“It definitely was a risk coming here,” Dieter said. “The safe route was staying at BG and probably being one of the leading receivers in the country. But coming here, I wanted to be on a winning program and compete for a national championship and get the resources that all these guys have on an everyday basis.”
Things move differently at Alabama, and Dieter likes that. He welcomes the sacrifice and work that goes into making a run at the national title. He knew what he was getting into when he decided to become a join the program this fall.
He could probably do without the weather, though.
“Just definitely takes some adjusting, getting used to, especially the weather,” Dieter said. “About the biggest thing to get used is how hot and humid it is every single day. I think I’ve adjusted well to it, and I’m excited for the season.”
Lately, Dieter has been braving those 90-degree practices at the slot receiver. During his time at Bowling Green, the 6-foot-3, 207-pounder was deployed on the outside. Along with moving inside at times, Dieter has also had to get used to what he calls a “NFL-base” offense at Alabama.
“That’s just how the offense is,” he said. “But, I mean, football’s football at the end of the day. Just getting used to it, I think I’ve gotten used to it a little bit. But football’s football at the end of the day.”
Alabama saw success at slot with another graduate transfer in Richard Mullaney, who caught 38 passes for 390 yards and five touchdowns last season after transferring from Oregon State. While Dieter offers a different skill set at the position, he hopes to come away with similar results.
“What Richard did last year was one of the biggest reasons I came here,” Dieter said. “Talking with him and him sharing his positive experience with me, I just felt confident that if I came here I could kind of match that or even do a little bit better.”
So far Dieter’s teammates think is off to a good start.
“He’s added a lot,” said junior receiver ArDarius Stewart. “He’s come in and just fit right in with the band of brothers. That’s what he’s supposed to do, and he’s done a great job at it.”
Added Ridley, “Gehrig’s really smart... he’s getting it real fast. Where he came from, it’s pretty similar I guess. He’s a bright guy and he’s getting it.”
When addressing the receivers earlier this month, Alabama head coach Nick Saban described the Tide’s depth at receiver as a “good problem to have.” While Dieter adds to Alabama’s vast array of weapons on the field, he is also looking to step up as a leader in his first season with the team.
“I think I can bring the experience back to (the unit),” Dieter said. “We have a pretty young group, a little older than last year, but still. Just the experience is the biggest thing from me. I’ve played three years of college football already. Coming into my fourth, I feel like I know the game really well and feel comfortable at every position.”
It’s just one more step he’s taking to be the best.
“Just coming here’s a challenge for myself,” Dieter said. “but something I want to do to prove to myself and prove to a lot of people that football is football anywhere you go.”