Another year learning the position would ve benefited the 6-foot-6, 306-pound athlete, but Gilliam said he s hoping his decision to declare for the NFL draft is high risk, high return.
I got my degrees. I triple majored, finished two of them and am close to the third, he said. I got out healthy so there was no point in trying to push it another season. I m already 23, would ve been 24 playing in the season so your risk of injury gets a little bit higher.
My athleticism definitely bodes well for the position and I think teams will take a shot to kind of develop me into the player they want me to be. Obviously another year as an offensive tackle and in school would ve been a lot better, but I was willing to take the risk.
He s optimistic that what scouts saw during his workout was an offensive lineman who is capable of posting some workout numbers that are reminiscent of his former days as a tight end. Gilliam said his 40-yard dash was under 5 seconds, a He said the Steelers, Saints, Jets and Broncos have shown interest in him and said other teams discussed following up with him in the coming weeks.
Gilliam headed to Los Angeles after the season where he trained and also lived with a nutritionist who helped him trim fat and build muscle.
Throughout the process of figuring out whether or not he wanted to return to school Gilliam reached out to former Penn State and NFL tight end Kyle Brady. It was Brady who hosted Gilliam during the 2009 Big 33 Football Classic and the two Pennsylvania products stayed in touch. Brady even flew up from Florida to watch Gilliam workout on Tuesday and previously helped him through the process of selecting an agent.
I was a tight end coming out [of high school] and he was also a tight end when he was here so we got to talking that way, Gilliam said. Come 2013 we had a few conversations toward the end of the season and I was talking to him about thinking about leaving and what the pros and cons were of each decision. He walked me through the whole agent thing and tryouts, just because I don t know and no one in my family has ever done anything like that. He was definitely a huge asset for me.
Gilliam plans to continue building his upper body strength while maintaining his stamina, something he credited former Penn State strength and conditioning coach Craig Fitzgerald with helping him develop. Gilliam will use the next month to continue training while also taking time to visit with his family and prepare for whatever the next step may be.
While some may second guess his decision between now and draft day, Gilliam isn t one of them.
I love Penn State so much and I want to see them succeed and to see the struggles they re having, especially at the right tackle spot because of the injuries, it would ve been nice to help my school out in that aspect, he said.
But, at the end of the day I mean, I didn t know all that stuff was going to happen and then a new staff too. Hindsight is 20/20 and I would ve loved to have stayed. I don t know if I would ve gotten the benefit in terms of my training and nutrition that I did, but it happens. We ll see how the next level works out.
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