The Central Michigan football program hasn't traditionally recruited in Alabama, which came as a surprise to 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker Antonio Gaylord, who said he couldn't be happier with his decision to play for the Chippewas.
"All players from Alabama would want to play for CMU after they visit," Gaylord said. "My first time really talking about CMU was with head coach Butch Jones at the Michigan camp (in June). I had seen CMU play against Georgia last fall and I was rooting for them (to beat UGA).
"Coach Jones was impressed with my play and he immediately told me he wanted me to visit Central Michigan and play for him," Gaylord added.
How excited were the CMU coaches to have Gaylord up for an unofficial visit to tour the campus and facilities?
"Coach Jones and the other coaches immediately chest bumped me when I walked through the door," Gaylord said. "That was the first time that college coaches were cool like that with me. I just really love the family atmosphere at CMU.
"In the SEC (Southeastern Conference) and Sun Belt it's more of a shell game, more of a business," Gaylord added. "It wasn't like that at CMU. They (CMU) treated me the way I thought I should be treated."
Gaylord is no stranger to coaches of the SEC, Conference USA or Sun Belt. He has scholarship offers and recruiting interest from all three conferences.
"I have offers from Troy, UAB and ULM," Gaylord said. "Tennessee was after me and so was LSU. When I camped at Troy I went up against their number one offensive lineman recruit and I destroyed him every time."
Gaylord isn't shy about wanting to compete against SEC schools, which dominate media coverage in his area.
"I want to go down and play schools like Alabama, Georgia and Florida," Gaylord said. "I want to show people in the South that CMU is bigger than it seems."
Gaylord describes his play as "physical and fast," adding that he's been clocked at close to 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Gaylord plays weakside defensive end for the Hoover Buccaneers but is projected as an outside linebacker or possibly even a safety for the Chippewas.
Given his size, speed and athleticism, there's always a chance that an SEC offer could come Gaylord's way this fall, but he is very clear on where he stands with CMU.
"I'm solid with CMU no matter what," Gaylord said. "I love the cold. I have been telling this player on my team he should come to CMU too."
If the Chippewas have their way, Gaylord could be joined in CMU's 2010 recruitng class by standout running back/safety Drew Phillips of Boaz (Ala.) High School. Phillips attended the Michigan camp with Gaylord and is considering offers from the Chippewas and BYU.
Being a solid commitment to CMU, Gaylord said he will now focus on helping the Bucs win another Alabama state title.
Hoover High is a football powerhouse in Alabama, having won state championships in five of the past seven seasons. Championships are what define the Buccaneers and Gaylord hopes to continue winning championships with the Chippewas.
"Championships are what Hoover is about," Gaylord said, "losing to Prattville last year (in the state championship game) has given us something to strive for. I am coming to CMU to win championships too."
Gaylord Excited About Future at CMU
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