Some of the early talk of fall practice has Sergio Gilliam catching the eye of defensive coordinator John Lovett. Could one of the top defensive backs ever to come out of Greer see playing time in 2003? We examine the answer to that very question in this extensive report.
Sergio Gilliam was an All-State both his junior and senior years. He was also a 2002 Shrine Bowl participant and he led state in interceptions in each of the last two seasons with 13 and 10, respectively. He finished the year with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and he also caught 21 passes for 452 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Gilliam is a playmaker that will provide solid depth at the cornerback position for years to come. His speed and his size will also make him a valuable commodity to have in the secondary simply because he's so versatile. He could stay at cornerback or make the transition over to free safety should he add a few more pounds.
Defensive coordinator John Lovett spoke extensively with the Greenville News yesterday about the former Greer standout. "He has a little bit more room for error because a shorter guy has to be closer to the receiver than a taller guy because arm span and the ball has to go over them," said Lovett.
Sergio was one of the most impressive cornerbacks in the Shrine Bowl last December, as not one wide receiver caught a pass on him the entire game. He matched up in man coverage almost exclusively with future UNC freshman Mike Mason and looked awfully impressive.
Gilliam chose the Tigers over South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. "The location is real close and that's important to me, and after talking to all the coaches and sitting down with them I just felt real comfortable about the going to school there," said the incoming freshman. "The atmosphere was really nice and the facilities really impressed me too, but the main thing is that I feel like I just fit in there."
Gilliam reported to practice this past Tuesday in great shape. After taking some good-natured ribbing from guys like Kevin Youngblood and Khaleed Vaughn during warm ups, the incoming freshman quietly showed his fellow defensive backs why he was so heavily recruited coming out of high school. With his height and speed, he has the physical edge over guys like Tye Hill and Buddy Williams. Nevertheless, he still lacks experience. While it may still be a little much to expect him to compete for playing time this year, Lovett has liked what he's seen and he has clearly left the door open for the incoming freshman.