Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Dumervil making hit records at Louisville
By Joe Starkey Special to ESPN.com
It seemed as though every time Louisville defensive end Elvis Dumervil picked up the phone, his father was on the other end, ragging him about how Miami (Ohio) quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had flicked Elvis liked a mosquito and thrown a touchdown pass in the 2003 GMAC Bowl.
The replay must have run a million times.
"I let him have it for weeks," said Frank Gachelin, Dumervil's father. "I'd say, 'Hey, you're in the highlights again.' This year, I said, 'You gotta make your own highlights instead of being in someone else's.'"
In the season opener against Kentucky, Dumervil made enough highlights to spawn a feature-length film. Not only did he roll up a Big East- and school-record six sacks, but he also had two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, 12 total tackles and very nearly a touchdown (a 33-yard fumble return was wiped out on a replay ruling).
"I was aiming for three sacks," Dumervil said, "and it got out of control."
Elvis' greatest hits figure to play regularly this season on the college football circuit, where Louisville (1-0) is favored to win the Big East title. The Cardinals, who had a bye this past weekend, host Oregon State (2-0) in their home opener Saturday.
A 255-pound senior, Dumervil isn't quite 6 feet tall but has a mammoth wingspan, running-back legs and a healthy hatred for quarterbacks.
"The only one I really like is mine, Brian Brohm," he said.
Dumervil also has a highly unusual background, having grown up in Miami as one of nine brothers (some half-brothers). Their father was a Marine who said he would sometimes wake his sons at 5 a.m. to go running. Four of the boys went on to play Division I college football.
Dumervil's mother (she and Frank Gachelin split several years ago) was a big Elvis Presley fan, which accounts for the kid's catchy first name -- though he prefers to go by his nickname, "Kool."
"He's so laid-back, you can't help but call him Kool," Louisville defensive tackle Montavious Stanley said.
Asked whether he is familiar with Presley's music, Dumervil says, "I knew you were going to ask about that," and leaves the distinct impression that he's not a big fan.
"Elvis Presley did great things; I'm just a football player."
Dumervil's musical tastes run more along the lines of the rap group G-Unit, which Louisville's defensive line has taken to calling itself.
The King or G-Unit? Hard choice. How about we alternate between the two in telling the Elvis Dumervil story:
Yeah, he's quiet off the field, but Dumervil goes Mr. Hyde once he buckles the chin strap.
"You'll see guys in practice line up and see him over them, and they're like, 'Oh, no, I've got to block that guy?'" Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.
Dumervil insists he is 6 feet. Stanley isn't so sure.
"Depends what kind of shoes he has on that day," Stanley said.
Does it matter? Dumervil set a Jackson (Miami) High School record with 78 career sacks and racked up 10 more last season, his first as a Cardinals starter.
Then came the Kentucky game, when, by his count, Dumervil went through three separate Wildcats tackles.
"First thing, he's very quick off the ball, and he has the arms of a 6-6 guy," Petrino said. "He knows the moves he wants to use, and he plays with a great motor. I wish the whole team could play with that kind of motor."
Dumervil's dad said he was a training officer -- a personal trainer of sorts -- in the Marines from 1979 to 1987.
"When they got too fat, they'd send 'em to me," Frank Gachelin said.
Gachelin encouraged his children to play football, but they had to meet several criteria, including good grades, in order to retain the privilege. His wife, Maggie, kept the kids in line.
"She's my XO -- a military term for executive officer," Gachelin said. "That's your right-hand man."
Dumervil's older brothers include James Dumervil and half-brother Louis Gachelin, both of whom played on the defensive line at Syracuse (James later transferred to Tennessee State); and half-brother Curry Burns, a safety who played at Louisville and later for the New York Giants before he was cut a few weeks ago.
A classic 'tweener, Dumervil will have to work extra hard to impress NFL scouts. He is not projected as a first-round pick, but that could change with a couple more six-sack games.
Dumervil turned down scholarship offers from Florida and Syracuse because he felt Louisville (then coached by John L. Smith) would provide the fastest opportunity to play.
He also wanted to line up at defensive end, not linebacker. He won't be so picky in the pros -- if he gets there.
"If they want me to be a kicker, I'll be a kicker," Dumervil said. "I'll be a long-snapper."
Dumervil likens himself to the Indianapolis Colts' Dwight Freeney because Freeney was considered undersized coming out of Syracuse, where his teammates included James Dumervil and Louis Gachelin.
Part of Elvis' "passion for pass-rushing" includes studying tape of the masters, such as Freeney and Jevon Kearse. But his first favorite was Derrick Thomas, whose sacking exploits for the Kansas City Chiefs before his death in 2000 inspired Dumervil to wear No. 58.
"He just destroyed people," Dumervil said.
The tape work is all part of the player's daily routine.
"After practice, I'll go home, eat and study [for classes]," he said. "Then I watch film to get the edge. Coach Petrino talks about visualizing. I like to visualize."
Don't Be Cruel
Dumervil claims he doesn't talk trash to opposing linemen.
"I don't even look them in the eye," he said. "Coach Petrino says, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick,' so we don't do much trash talking here at Louisville. We try to play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
If he is moved to speak, Dumervil will say something polite to the quarterback.
"I gotta love you; that's why I want to spend time with you," Dumervil said, mimicking himself. "And I'll be seeing you again soon."
Joe Starkey covers the Big East for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.