Colorado linebacker Addison Gillam is one of several explosive, true freshman linebackers in the Pac-12 this season. With 59 tackles through six games, he leads the Pac-12 with an average 9.8 tackles per game. He’s second in the conference in solo tackles. He took a few minutes this week to chat with the Pac-12 blog about his decision to follow coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado, his impact, and what he hopes the program looks like 10 years from now.
You had originally committed to San Jose State. You commit to an 11-win team, then end up with a one-win team. Is that just following the coach and believing in the man?
Addison Gillam: Yeah. Absolutely. That was solely based on Coach MacIntyre coming here. I liked how he coaches. What his philosophies are. And you saw how he turned around San Jose State.
Did you expect to make the kind of impact you’ve had so far?
AG: Not at all. I thought I would be sitting out or switching off reps with Brady Daigh. I thought I’d be used more as a situational guy if anything. I was pretty surprised to get as much time as I did.
What’s been the biggest adjustment for you so far in the college game?
AG: Getting my reads down with the speed and everything. It’s pretty fast.
What have you done to improve that?
AG: A lot of game film. A lot of studying. And the amount of reps I get in practice help a lot.
What are your impressions of the Pac-12 so far? You were committing to a Mountain West team. But the Pac-12 is a different animal.
AG: Yeah, definitely. It’s really intense. It requires a lot of speed and a lot of focus. It’s a good conference. Real good. Every week is a new challenge.
What do you think is your biggest strength as a linebacker?
AG: I would say my speed and my ability to get to the ball.
What’s the biggest thing you want to improve on?
AG: Still getting my reads down. There’s a lot of footwork that goes with that. Knowing when to stay square when I need to and knowing when to flip and run when I need to.
Obviously you knew Colorado was struggling before you came. Coach MacIntyre comes in and wants to turn things around. Is there something to be said for being in on the ground floor and being one of the first guys in to try and change the program?
AG: We’re all just really excited, all the freshmen. We feel like we've got things moving in the right direction, so we’ll see where it goes.
For the young guys, is it easier that you weren’t here the last couple of seasons to see and experience the lean years?
AG: I think so. Last year, you get the impression that some guys just got used to losing. I think a lot of the guys coming out of high school come from really good teams. We’re used to winning and we all hate losing, so I think that’s a good thing. We’re bringing that approach. That’s a big thing.
Ten years from now, what do you want Colorado football to look like?
AG: I want it to be one of the best teams out there. I want it to be an Oregon and an Alabama.
What’s something about you people might not know?
AG: I like the outdoors and reggae music.
So do you mix and match? Do you go hiking with reggae on the iPod?
AG: No, I keep them separate.