Friday Featured Athlete: Washington Redskins Running Back Derrius Guice
The position of running back in football requires equal parts mental and physical toughness. Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice's upbringing helped prepare him for the role of being a feature back for a NFL team.
Guice was born in a poverty-stricken section of Baton Rouge, Louisiana known as "the Bottom". His father was killed after being shot following an argument at a Denny's restaurant. The young Guice learned of the incident after seeing it on the local news.
"People tell me, 'Man, you run angry,'" Guice said. "If you grew up where I grew up, and you knew this game was the only thing that can get you and your family out, you'd run angry, too. Every damn time you touched the ball." (via The Lab/Bleacher Report)
Guice focused on football and initially attended McKinley High School. However, Guice and a few other football teammates earned scholarships to the local private Catholic High. Although his mother believed Guice was placed in a better situation to prosper both on the football field and in the classroom, Guice encountered bullying and racism for the first time.
"When you're a black person, the only time you really see racism like that, to that full an extent, is when you're watching a movie," Johnson says. "We were living that movie. It was like, Is this really happening? I never thought it was real. We were just kids, and it really affected us mentally." (via The Lab/Bleacher Report)
His life took a positive turn as a junior in high school after meeting Stephanie de la Houssaye, a guidance counselor at Catholic High. The two formed a relationship that eventually saw Guice spend time with de la Houssaye's family, even going on vacations with them.
"It was The Blind Side movie come true," Guice says. (via The Lab/Bleacher Report)
Catholic High went 9-2 in Guice's senior season and following a successful high school career, Guice played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl where he took him the Pete Dawkins Trophy.
Coming out of Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), Guice was rated as a five-star recruit and the second-best running back in the class after Damien Harris. Guice would commit to play football at Louisiana State University (LSU) and was off to the races as a top tier RB.
While at LSU, Guice initially struggled to find consistent playing time as future NFL superstar Leonard Fournette was the team's starting running back. Still, he appeared in all 12 games, rushing for 436 yards and three touchdowns on 51 carries.
In his sophomore campaign, Guice earned the opportunity to start for the LSU Tigers after Fournette went down with an injury. He responded by rushing for 155 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Later in the season, Guice set the single-game rushing record for LSU football with 285 yards, besting a mark previously set by his teammate Fournette earlier in the season.
Guice's junior season saw him become the LSU Tigers' feature back. He struggled with injuries early in the season but still managed to produce 1,251 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.
Following his successful career at LSU, Guice entered the 2018 NFL Draft and was selected with the No. 59 overall pick by the Washington Redskins. Guice was primed for a big role with the team before suffering a torn ACL in his first preseason game.
With a year on the mend and the chance to prove his doubters wrong, Guice enters year two of his NFL career aiming to prove he belongs among the top NFL running backs.
(Cover photo via Derrius Guice's Instagram)