Alohi Gilman Prepared To Set The Standard
"Just put me on the field."
Alohi Gilman said those words following the Notre Dame football banquet on December 15th, 2017 where he earned Scout Team Player of the Year as he sat out the season due to his transfer from Navy. Well, the Hawaii native got on the field in 2018 and racked up 94 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, two interceptions, five passes defended and one forced fumble. The stats only told half the story as Gilman became a vocal leader for Notre Dame last fall. He also pushed fellow safety Jalen Elliott and it has led them both to be captains for Notre Dame in 2019. “It feels good thinking about since the first day I got here till now,” stated Gilman. “It was good to see the respect from my teammates. The respect and love they have for me is a good feeling. To carry on the tradition and honor of Notre Dame and this team and being around these guys is great.” If Elliott and Gilman aren’t the top safety duo in college football this season, they will be close. It would also be hard to find a closer bond between any two safeties as Gilman joked they were prepared to decline being a captain if they both didn’t earn the honor. “Me and Jalen don’t talk much about it,” said Gilman. “He said the same thing. He said if I didn’t get captain, he wouldn’t be captain and we’d decline it. It’s good to see both of us out there. We’re both leaders in different ways and we love being out there with each other. It’s good to see my brother next to me.” It’s apparent being named a captain means a lot to Gilman, but it might mean more to his father, who has coached him since he was little and coaches some of Hawaii’s best defensive backs to this day. “It will mean a lot as a son,” Gilman explained. “He loves the game as much as I do. To represent him and my family is going to be good.” The transition to Notre Dame wasn’t easy for Gilman as he knew he wouldn’t see the field when his NCAA waiver was declined. Gilman took his frustrations out in The Gug and it has led him to the present. “Coach (Matt) Balis and I spent a lot of time together,” laughed Gilman. “That’s how I coped with it. It was a tough situation. I grew from that experience and became the player and leader I am today. I used that experience as motivation, but also as a humbling experience to be able to play last season and the magnitude of what it means to play here as a Notre Dame football player. “I’m sitting here as a captain and that’s crazy because I would have never thought that. This opportunity is a blessing.” Gilman also wants to follow in the footsteps of the players who helped him through his tough times. “Drue Tranquill was a big guy for me,” Gilman explained. “He actually texted me after he heard the news. He’s been a guy who led me through and he’s been through some adversity here. He’s a guy who has always shown the right way to do things. Drue has been a good leader for me.” The standard for leadership has been set high over the past two seasons and the leadership this fall might be as strong as it’s ever been under Brian Kelly. Even with experience and leadership, Notre Dame will play some inexperienced players this season and Gilman is taking it on himself to prepare the youth on the roster for their time.
“It’s definitely a collective effort,” stated Gilman. “As an older guy and captain, I have to set the standard of how we operate here and be an example. I have to continue to push guys as much as they push me and be the guy they can lean on. One of those younger players is freshman safety Kyle Hamilton. The Georgia native has been the buzz of fall camp and Gilman will now look to take him under his wing. “He fits well with our scheme here and our safety group as a whole. His strengths complement us. He makes the safety group stronger, so it’s nice to see him come along.”