Gilman couldn’t be more excited to finally play for Notre Dame
Fighting Irish Media’s Jack Nolan recently spoke with Notre Dame safety Alohi Gilman following another fall football practice in South Bend.
After putting forth an impressive effort as a true freshman for the Navy Midshipmen, Gilman transferred to Notre Dame before the 2017 season. Transfer rules forced him to sit out the year in South Bend, but now it’s time to unleash the Hawaiian against Michigan on Sept. 1.
“I’m beyond excited,” said Gilman. “I’m excited to get out, excited to play, excited to be with my teammates. I can’t wait.”
There were some question marks about the secondary in years past, but that’s not at all the case these days. With the likes of Gilman, Julian Love, Troy Pride Jr., Nick Coleman and many others, the defensive back unit has become a strength.
“First of all, we’re better just based off experience,” said Gilman. “Last year was last year and this year we’re focused on new goals, new ambitions. Experience is there, so it makes us more confident. Altogether, we’re a tight, close group. We know each other well, so because of that, we’re able to play better.”
There were some ups and downs last fall for the Notre Dame defense and for Gilman, it was tough for him watching from the sidelines, especially when he was chomping at the bit to help his Fighting Irish teammates. Gilman believes this group is much stronger now after facing some low points last season.
“Obviously I didn’t play last year, but I can tell just the amount of experience and confidence that we gained from last year and things we learned, it definitely put us on another level of playing style, the way we play, the way we approach every day,” said Gilman. “This has been going on since our last game against LSU and in the spring, so we’re just trying to keep on building from that”
Gilman isn’t use to sitting out and watching. He was a two-way play maker in high school and was terrific at Navy during his first season of college football. That said, he learned a great deal about himself, his teammates and the game of football during his time away from the field last fall.
“I mean, football-wise, technically you’re not learning as much because you’re sitting on the side and you’re not learning as much in the film room as much with your coaches. But the thing you do learn is the magnitude of the game and the opportunity given to you,” said Gilman. “I come today to practice with a lot more humble attitude, a lot more gratitude and I think it helped change my mindset toward the game every day, as I wake up and come to practice and learn and try to grow as much as possible.”
According to Gilman, Notre Dame fans can expect a “competitive, physical and instinctual” player out of him this fall. The Fighting Irish coaching staff raved about this guy upon arrival and expectations are high regarding his contributions at safety this fall. It’s also a possibility that he returns some kicks on special teams, which is something he is more than looking forward to.
“I’m definitely excited,” said Gilman, regarding the chance he can return a few kicks. “Anything with the ball in my hands, I’m definitely excited.”
Gilman won’t get a chance to go through the motions during his first game. He will get thrown right into the fire against Michigan in arguably the biggest game of the season. However, don’t look for too many nerves. He’s beyond ready to start making plays.
“I’ve gone through it a lot. I’m a big believer in visualization, so I’ve visualized myself doing that a lot,” said Gilman, when asked what it’ll be like for him to run out of the tunnel knowing he will be playing for the first time inside Notre Dame Stadium. “By the time I get to game day, it’s not going to be a surprise. It’s like I’ve done it a million times already.”