When Rutgers coaches pulled Jeremy Deering aside earlier this month to ask whether he had any interest in playing safety, he replied in his usual soft-spoken way.
"Why not?" he told his coaches.
Thus begins his odyssey this season. Deering has an opportunity to play three ways for Rutgers -- as a receiver, safety and return specialist. On the depth chart for the opener against Tulane, he's listed as a backup receiver and leading kickoff returner. Though he is not on the two deep at safety, he has continued to get reps at the position and is expected to contribute somehow.
If he does play three ways, Deering would join a short list of versatile players who have done the same in recent years. Brandon Boykin at Georgia played three ways last year and won the Paul Hornung Award as the most versatile player in college football. Boykin started at cornerback, returned kicks and lined up as a receiver, tailback and quarterback.
Among other players who have played three ways: Chris Gamble at Ohio State, Eric Weddle at Utah, Charles Woodson at Michigan and Champ Bailey at Georgia. Then you have the ultimate two-way players: Gordie Lockbaum at Holy Cross played running back and cornerback and finished third in the Heisman voting in 1987; and just a few years ago, Owen Marecic at Stanford started at linebacker and fullback.
While the prospect of being able to do so many things might wow outsiders, Deering just shrugs his shoulders.
"The coaches brought it to my attention," Deering said.
And how would it feel to get to do all three in a game?
"Pretty nice," Deering said. "That's my plan to do it. I'm just going to do the best I can and see how it goes."
Deering has too much talent to sit on the bench, so the coaches are doing whatever they can to get him involved in the games. He currently splits his time between the receivers meeting rooms and defensive backs meeting rooms, not to mention being involved in special teams meetings.
That may seem like a lot to handle, but Deering has taken everything thrown at him and has no complaints.
"I'm just trying to get it all down and just figure out what they want me to do and study film," Deering said. "I guess they see me as a player that can play many positions and do many things, so they are trying to use me in as many ways and make the best out of it."