Antonio Gaylord is the long-striding, hard hitting defensive standout from Hoover (Ala.) High School who at one time was solidly committed to Central Michigan University.
With former CMU head coach Butch Jones now at the University of Cincinnati and Dan Enos the new head coach for the Chippewas, Gaylord is reevaluating his options.
The demand for Gaylord's services has increased in recent weeks. Gaylord's Hoover Buccaneers are fresh off a class 5A state championship. Gaylord reports a three-sack performance in that title game over rival Prattville Dec. 12.
While Gaylord admits he hasn't been a stranger to phone calls from coaches around the country, he's quick to add he has his grip on the CMU football program and hopes to be still holding on when he makes his decision in the coming weeks.
I recently talked with Gaylord about the coaching change, his future with CMU, and what he thought about the Chippewas' performance in the GMAC Bowl.
What do you think of the coaching change and new CMU head coach Dan Enos?
Gaylord - At first it shocked me that Butch Jones left. Butch was the one who recruited me so I was like God has his own plan and that was his situation as a man that he had to make. I knew he had to do what he had to do for his family.
And Coach Enos, what do you think about him?
Gaylord - I don't really know much about him. He called me the other day and left a message and I need to call him back and talk to him.
So how solid are you with CMU right now?
Gaylord - I am kind of going both ways right now. One day I wake up and I am solid (for CMU). Some days I am not sure. I need to come up there on another visit. When I went up there this summer the people of Mount Pleasant showed me so much love and I could see the players they were targeting along with me had a lot of talent. Right now I have my grip on CMU and I hope it works out so I can become a Chippewa.
Talk about the other teams recruiting you.
Gaylord - Right now I have offers on the table from Troy and Louisiana-Lafayette. Notre Dame and UCLA have contacted me. UAB has been blazing my phone like crazy. LSU has offered me in track and they are talking about football. My mom is telling me I have to make a choice and like I said, I'm still holding my grip with CMU but I am listening to other people.
Even with the coaching change at Tennessee, the Volunteers are still after you?
Gaylord - Tennessee…yes, even with the new coach. My mom knows the new coach (Derek Dooley) through a family member. I plan on officially visiting Tennessee.
How was the GMAC Bowl?
Gaylord - That game was great! Central Michigan played exactly how I thought. Troy is close to my hometown so everybody was talking a lot of junk, telling me that CMU was going to lose. I almost got into several fights over it. Everybody had their Troy hats on. I proved them all wrong. Dan LeFevour did awesome and Antonio Brown proved everybody wrong who didn't think CMU could keep up with Troy's speed. My mom didn't know that Central Michigan could play that well. After she saw the game she was impressed.
What was it like winning another championship at Hoover?
Gaylord - The championship at Hoover was amazing...It was a great way to finish with a bang. We proved everybody wrong. Our quarterback is a junior and did really well. Our leaders stepped forwards amazingly. I came out with three sacks in the game and 15 tackles...I'm done, I've been here for four years and it's time for me to move on.
Where do you see yourself at CMU in two years?
Gaylord - I'm starting safety all the way. I have my 40 time down to a 4.46 and I am ready... They haven't seen anybody like me.
You played defensive end in high school and did a great job. What if the coaches tell you they want you to put on 30 pounds and come off the edge?
Gaylord - Safety all the way. I played defensive end at Hoover just because were so loaded at safety. All I am thinking is that when I get there I am going to tear somebody's head off.
You know CMU has some players who are going to be competing for that starting spot too. Do you think you can come in as a true freshman and lock up that spot right away?
Gaylord - They haven't seen anybody like me before. I'm just excited to play against some people who are going to hit me back. I'm ready for the challenge.
Are you playing any sports this winter or next spring?
Gaylord - I run track. I am a state champion in the discus. I run the 100 and the 4 by 100 as well.
Most of the players I talk to have a game plan as far as strength and conditioning before they arrive at CMU. Do you have a current plan?
Gaylord - I actually have a coach who used to coach with me Avin Gibson. He has been working out with me. I am trying to get up to 225 to 228 and keep my 40 time down. Right now my bench is at 335 and I am trying to get to 350.
It's been cold in Alabama the past couple weeks, has that prepared you for Michigan weather?
Gaylord - Rain, whatever, I have actually been running in the snow to see how it feels. You get used to it.
Anything else you care to say to CMU fans who are hanging on your final decision?
Gaylord - Go Chippewas!
Gaylord Talks Recruiting
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