Colorado fell on tough times recently, going from an NCAA powerhouse to a team that barely aspired to mediocrity throughout the 21st century. Last season, the Buffaloes won just four games, but showed signs of life over the second half of the year behind new head coach Mike MacIntyre and a couple rising stars — quarterback Sefo Liufau on offense, and linebacker Addison Gillam on defense.
Forrest West of Campus Sports recently interviewed Gillam, a freshman starter at middle linebacker who went on to earn both freshman all-American and honorable all-conference votes. Why? Well, despite playing on a struggling team, Gillam was the first freshman to ever lead the Buffs in tackles, at least since they started recording the statistic 50 years ago. Gillam totaled 107 tackles , 9½ in the backfield, and three sacks, and also picked off one pass and broke up five others. That is a pretty good season for a salty vet, let alone a first year player. Enrolling in time for spring camp certainly benefited him, as he went into summer camp last year with the starting spot already in hand. He had five games with 11 or more tackles, and sometimes it seemed he was the only defender on the field. Against Oregon, for example, he had a massive 15 solo tackles. His star is rising in Colorado right now.
Campus Sports – Congrats on your first year at Colorado, you put up solid numbers and earned freshman All-American honors. Tell us a little bit about this experience.
Addison – It was a great feeling. Lots of support from around the nation, from a bunch of football. I never thought I could be an all-American player at any level. And after it happened it was awesome; it was kind of eye opening when I realized I could play at this level. It was a great feeling.
Campus Sports – Were you coveted by schools in your home state (California) coming out of high school?
Addison – I actually only had two offers, one from Fresno State, and one from UC Davis. I think it’s like the area where I’m from we don’t get a lot of exposure. California is a big state and there are lots of big high schools, good schools, so that was the biggest thing.
Campus Sports – Colorado has had a lot of linebacker greats and former Butkus Award winners, anyone in particular that you have looked up to?
Addison – I really like Jordon Dizon a lot. He gave 100% all the time, always flying around the ball and giving his all. Something I really look up to and how I try to model in my play.
Campus Sports – You and Sefo [Liufau] both have been elected captains by your teammates. What does this honor mean to you?
Addison – It’s crazy and really cool just knowing that the team looks up to me and believes in me to help lead the team. It’s a good feeling having the team behind me and support me.
Campus Sports – What are your expectations for this year’s team?
Addison – Definitely improve our record and get to a bowl game. Get better connecting as team and play better together.
Campus Sports – You are said to be an outdoor enthusiast; how does Colorado stack up to other places you have been?
Addison – It’s awesome, it’s kind of like where I’m from back in Northern California, a lot more extreme I guess.
Campus Sports – If you could say anything to Colorado fans, what would it be?
Addison – We love the support. That’s kind of generic, but we really love having the fans out there especially the student section, which we look forward to pleasing this year.
Make sure to follow Addison on Twitter: @a_gillam44