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Getting to know... Chadron State's Garrett Gilkey

It’s been called “The World’s Toughest Job Interview.” For seven days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 20-26), college football’s best will be measured, interviewed, tested, watched and analyzed by countless NFL coaches, general managers and scouts prior to the NFL Draft. To prepare, more than three-dozen top prospects traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of position-specific skill-work, speed and movement, physical and mental conditioning, communications and leadership training, nutrition, vision training, sports medicine and more with world-renowned coaches and trainers.

Garrett Gilkey is a hard working lineman that is currently training at IMG Academy. Coming out of Chadron State, a small division two school, Gilkey has a unique opportunity to play in the NFL, but it is not to overshadow another passion of his, special education. During a break, Gilkey spoke on his passions, his goals, and where he has come from.

Garrett Gilkey on...

…Chadron State

I love it.  I absolutely love where I came from. It’s very small and we clearly don’t have some of the resources that we have here at IMG Academy, or that other players have at larger schools, but that has all translated into who I am now. It has helped me develop my work ethic and has motivated me to accomplish the goals I set forth to accomplish.

…His hometown, Sandwich, Illinois

It’s a very small, country town. I love it though. Everyone knows each other. And it’s really cool that I’m going to be the first professional athlete out of Sandwich. We have never really produced any high- profile athletes so it’s great to be able to put my small hometown on the map. Also, I can’t wait to have the ability to go around to the different schools and speak on influential topics like bullying, not taking steroids, and more.  I’m just excited to make an impact on the kids, the town, and the surrounding areas.

…The annual Sandwich fair in his hometown

It’s one of the oldest running fairs in the country. Growing up, I would go to it all the time. We actually got days off of school to go to it. It went on for a few days, and I would go every day. As a little kid I would just run around, have fun, and waste money. Right now if I would go, I wouldn’t be drawn to the same things. They have animals, the demolition derby, truck pools, antique cars and tractors, giant carnival rides,  mainstream country artists…they have everything! It’s huge and it’s a lot of fun. Thousands of people from the surrounding areas would come, and it’s always a good time.

…Country Music

I like it a lot, but it’s seasonal for me. During the winter it’s harder for me to listen to it. But during the summer, I love listening to it; it’s just the context for it. But while I’m working out I enjoy listening to contemporary Christian music. It puts me in the right mindset, and puts things in perspective of why I am here and why I am doing what I’m doing. Sometimes I need some hardcore metal or dubstep when I’m lifting heavy, but when it’s time for accessory lifts, I like listening to contemporary Christian.

…Missing the start of the 2011 season with a burst appendix

That was very difficult. I had a lot of desires, and I had a lot of goals I wanted to hit that season. It’s hard when you have a desire to play in the NFL, especially coming from my background. Playing at a small division two school, you have to be an elite individual to get a look, let alone get drafted, let alone be a contributing member of an NFL team. So I knew going into my junior and senior year I had to be lights-out, produce, and be dominant. So, I had this mentality that nothing bad could happen. Then having appendicitis 3 hours before my first game, it was humbling because it caused me to put things in perspective and realize that things are here today and gone tomorrow. We can only control so much. At the end of the day, God is in control of my life and some things happen that I have no control of. I just have to submit to God’s will and recognize that is way more important and everything will be alright.

…Majoring in Special Education

Going into my second year of college, I felt I had a calling into ministry. I almost quit football to pursue a bible college in Chicago called Moody Bible Institute. So for a semester I was wrestling with the idea of leaving school. Not necessarily quitting football, but leaving school which would essentially mean quitting football to pursue ministry. But after talking to many different people I decided to stay in Chadron. I was pre-med the first two years of college but then I decided I didn’t want to be a doctor, I wanted to work with youth. So I decided the most applicable major for me to be able to work with  and greatly influence teens and at-risk youth would be special education. So I went in knowing I’d be able to work with youth with behavioral disorders, or emotionally disturbed youth, and that’s what I wanted to do. I just love every aspect of special needs and special education. This is my passion; I just want to be able to work with youth.

…What the NFL Draft holds for him

I see it as a piece to the puzzle that God has for me, which is a bigger plan. I think often guys get caught up in where they’re drafted. For me, that’s not my purpose. My life goal is to be a missionary, to impact the lives of young people. So whether I’m drafted in the first round or if I’m a free agent, it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t change my goal.  

…Training at IMG Academy

Coming from Chadron, I’m one of very few coming from division two with the opportunity to play in the NFL.  So, I am very fortunate and I look at everything that is provided here at IMG Academy and I am very thankful. It’s draining and it’s not easy at all, but I appreciate it and see it as an opportunity to become the best offensive lineman I can be.