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Buffs LB Gillam Continues To Be First-Year Standout

Oct 9, 2013

BOULDER—The biggest talk around Colorado football in recent weeks has centered on the play of freshman linebacker Addison Gillam and post-practice Wednesday proved to be no different.

After four games, Addison’s 12.2 tackles per game lead the Pac-12 Conference. As he continues to mature in the middle of the CU defense, the young linebacker may well be on his way to becoming a team cornerstone on which the Buffs can build for years to come.

“He’s a really good young man,” said Coach Mike MacIntyre. “He’s almost too good to be true. He does everything right. He works hard and is very humble. He has great, great parents and great family up in the hills of California and he’s always been really well-grounded and I think that helps him.”

Despite all the accolades and praise Addison has received since bursting onto the college scene, he has never allowed himself to become overwhelmed by feelings of content or self-satisfaction.

“Personally, I can always work on trying to get more disciplined,” said Gillam. “I watch film every day and I just try to learn my role better because I think you should never stop trying to improve as a player no matter who you are.”

Gillam and his fellow freshmen on defense have impressed CU’s upperclassmen. In addition to Gillam, defensive backs Tedric Thompson and Chidobe Awuzie and linebacker Kenneth Olugbode have seen duty either on the defensive unit or on special teams.

Senior defensive end Chidera Uzo-Diribe said the first-year players “have shown that they can physically handle playing Pac-12 football. Mentally, they know what to do, their assignments, and their checks and reads. The freshmen have been doing a really good job.

"If you are expected to play as a freshman, then it’s for a reason. You’ve shown that you can handle the mental load and the physical load. You expect them to play well.”

But Uzo-Diribe admits Gillam might have exceeded most expectations. “He is probably one of the best players I have seen coming out of high school,” Uzo-Diribe said. “To come out here, fly around the field and to make the plays that he does – he is a really good player. He knows what he is doing out there. He doesn’t play like a freshman or think like one.”

Coming out of high school, recruiters from around the country were reluctant to offer Gillam a scholarship because many felt he wasn’t fast enough. But, after chasing down speedy Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota from behind last Saturday, it seems that those doubts have been unfounded.

“That’s the great thing about camps for players like Addison,” said MacIntyre. “You never know for sure unless you see him play in person and that’s why camps are so big. Film doesn’t lie but it doesn’t tell all the truth. That’s always my answer. If we like (a player) on film then we better make sure of every detail that we’re looking for. That’s why we love to have the young men come to camp.”

NOTABLE: Defensive tackle Justin Solis suffered an ankle sprain in the first half in Saturday’s loss to Oregon and did not return. Although he remains questionable for this Saturday’s game at Arizona State (8 p.m. MDT, Pac-12 Network), MacIntyre told the media on Wednesday that Solis has felt a lot better since and he is hopeful that Solis will be able to play. MacIntyre is preparing defensive linemen Tyler Henington, Nate Bonsu and Kirk Poston to play more snaps if Solis can’t go . . . . MacIntyre thinks that preparing for the speed of Oregon last week will help the team in their preparation for the speed of Arizona State this week. Both teams play similar up-tempo styles of offenses and CU’s defense has practiced for that same kind of speed for the last two weeks. The team will practice again on Thursday morning and leave for Tempe, Ariz., on Friday morning.