Gainesville grad Devan Stringer simply can’t stop until he makes it to the NFL. He’s got too much unfinished business.
“Hopefully I can play against Deshaun (Watson) again, because I owe him some losses,” Stringer said. “He beat me when I was at App State and I’m still salty about that one, and that was back in 2015. I owe him some.”
Stringer’s NFL dreams date back to when he was just 4 years old and haven’t wavered since. In September, he signed to play this season with the Arizona Rattlers, the next step toward his ultimate goal of playing at the highest level. He will report to training camp in early March in Phoenix.
Following a four-year career with Appalachian State, Stringer signed to play with the New York Streets — a first-year team in the National Arena League (NAL) — for the 2018 season.
But organizational issues plagued the Streets, causing the team to cave after one year and putting Stringer’s future back into question. He returned to Gainesville in July to get back to training.
Stringer has spent six days a week in the Gainesville High weight room since then, working so when the next opportunity came he would be ready.
“I’m on the grind,” he said. “I go to work during the day. I get off, come here, wake up, repeat the same thing pretty much Monday through Saturday.”
After months of work, Stringer finally got the call he wanted from his agent. The Rattlers were prepared to give him his next chance.
Stringer has kept the work up since, using his future in Phoenix as motivation to get better every day. He’s also been trying to make his mark on the next generation of players. Current Gainesville coach Heath Webb gave Stringer free reign over the weight room after hours, and he’s done his best to support the Red Elephants football program in return.
He’s talked to the players in meetings on a number of occasions, and even offers one-on-one advice to the guys who need it.
“That is always a big blessing just for me to be in those shoes of being a role model, or just a shoulder to lean on, anything like that,” he said. “It’s great being back home and being able to work out here and see all the old teachers and everything. I always want the best for Gainesville.”
Looking ahead, Stringer said he’s most excited to be able to be a part of a team again.
While he’s never lacked for personal motivation, he’s been looking forward to returning to a team environment ever since the end of his stint with the Streets in June.
“It’s always better to work with a group of people working toward the same goal,” he said. “It’s a little bit more motivating when you can learn from somebody else and teach somebody at the same time. It really creates a bond. That’s the biggest thing I’m looking forward to.”
He will be traveling out to Phoenix in early spring, driving into Arizona for the start of training camp on March 5.
It will be his fourth city in the last three years, but it’s the lifestyle Stringer has always wanted. And though he’ll miss Gainesville while out west, Stringer said he wouldn’t change anything about his personal football journey.
“Just traveling and playing the game that I love and that God blessed me to be able to play,” he said. “It’s a dream come true.”