Gilman Brings Passion to the Notre Dame Secondary #BeyondOurNorthShore
Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
The safety play for Notre Dame took a big step forward in 2017 going from questionable to reliable. Unfortunately they never advanced past that and the playmaking element at the position was virtually non-existent.
Based on what we’ve seen in the spring and fall camp so far, that looks like it will change and a large reason for that would be Alohi Gilman.
Gilman arrived last summer, but a decision by the NCAA to not allow him to be immediately eligible after transferring from Navy kept him out of the lineup. If not for that, he likely would have started and chances are that we would have been talking about the safeties differently.
He’s eligible now and excited about having an opportunity to get on the field on Saturdays this fall.
“It’s been great,” Gilman said about knowing there isn’t anything holding him back. “Just a better mindset coming to practice every day. Being able to just play football in general. Definitely grateful for the opportunity. It feels great to be back.”
Last year was not an easy experience for him. Knowing that he wasn’t available to play, Gilman was relegated to the scout team and his job was primarily to give the offense the best look possible to prepare them during the season.
Sometimes the look he gave might have been a bit too realistic as he was kicked out of practice “maybe five times” because of how hard he played.
"It was a first experience for me playing scout team, but it was just frustrating not playing. Being my natural self I just played ball and ended up doing a little too much at times with giving a look,” Gilman admitted.
That’s not going to be an issue anymore as the coaching staff welcomes his intensity and what he brings to the defense. There's a physical edge he adds to the back end that they didn’t have previously. The intangibles he carries with him onto the field can be infectious.
“I’m passionate about playing,” Gilman declared. “Competitive. Physical. Everything I do I try to do is physical. Instinctual. I see plays and anticipate as much as possible and make plays.”
Where does that passion and physical edge come from? It all started with where Gilman is from and what he was forced to do to entertain himself as a kid.
“That came from being where I was raised. I was raised in a small town in Oahu in Hawaii. We don’t have much out there.
“I was raised chasing chickens when I was little. I didn’t have no videos games, I didn’t have TV. I chased chickens. We were a competitive group where I was raised and that’s just innate. We were just built like that.”
That helped shaped the competitor he is now. Maybe if he didn’t have that upbringing he wouldn’t play in a way that separates him from the other safeties on Notre Dame’s roster.
Everything that happened before has led to where he is now. He is set up for a prominent role in the secondary and is emerging as a leader on the back end for the Irish.
“Personality-wise, I’m honestly not the biggest talker,” Gilman explained about his leadership style. “I’m not talking all the time. I’m pretty quiet, to be honest, off the field.
“But when it comes to leading, I think the one trait that I have is when I speak, people listen. I’m able to communicate well. And I think that just being to relate to different people. I don’t talk to everyone the same. I talk to each person different and by doing that I’m able to bring people around and people follow.”
Gilman could very well be a future captain for Notre Dame, but for now, he’s just excited about the opportunity to see the field against Michigan on September 1st and putting in the work in camp leading up to it.
“I think about it a lot. Every day and every night. I wish it was here, but I’m enjoying the process right now and working on getting to that.”