“I am definitely trying to think of the bigger picture, me being healthy for the season, but it is hard, frustrating to stand on the sideline and watch everybody,” said Gillam, who missed all but two games last season due to a torn meniscus.
Gillam admits he was still not 100 percent recovered from the knee injury entering camp, but he feels he is getting close.
“It gets a little sore, the muscles tighten up after practice, but it has only been a week and I am already feeling 10 times better than when we started camp,” he said. “Today was probably my best day, getting back into it. I feel pretty good.”
Gillam was also hampered by a long list of injuries, and an illness, during his sophomore campaign in 2014. He said his most recent knee injury has “without a doubt” been the most frustrating ailment he has suffered in his football career.
When healthy, Gillam has been among the Buffaloes' best players the last three years. He was the first freshman to ever lead CU in stops in 2013, and despite all the setbacks he faced in 2014, he still finished second on the team in tackles.
Based off what he has seen so far this preseason, Buffs head coach Mike MacIntyre is confident a playmaking Gillam will be on display on Sept. 2 when they open the season.
“When we've thrown him out there in the things he's done, he hasn't really looked rusty,” MacIntyre said. “He just kind of has that instinct. He has gone through all the walkthroughs, he has sat in on all the meetings, and he has done pass scale. He has also gone live out here a few times.
“Tomorrow is a scheduled day off for him so he won't be going live during the scrimmage at all. He has been doing well, though. I definitely believe he'll be ready. But if we go out here and make him go every day, then he won't be able to play. So the whole job is to make sure he plays in 12 regular season games and playoff games and everything else that we have ahead of us.”
Because his season-ending injury happened in week two, Gillam was able to apply his redshirt to last season. He briefly quit football early during the spring semester in 2015, but Gillam said he looks forward to running out behind Ralphie for two more seasons.
“Stepping away from football for a little while definitely gave me good perspective on what I want to do and what I care about,” Gillam said. “I care deeply about this program and my teammates. That was the biggest thing for me, being back around all my teammates.”
Additional Friday notes:
*** The Buffaloes' scrimmage on Saturday will be conducted in Folsom Field and will be the final preseason practice that is open to the public and media. Warm-ups and positional work will begin around 9:45 am. Pac-12 officials will be on hand for the scrimmage portion.
“I hope we have good rhythm and execution,” MacIntyre said. “They'll be out there without the coaches on the field. We'll truly see what they know being out there on their own.”
*** The Buffs' established players will not see a lot of action during Saturday's scrum, MacIntyre warned.
“Our guys that have played a lot of football, we'll give them few reps kind of like you would in an NFL preseason game, and then we'll get them out,” he said. “So we'll be looking at some of the younger guys that will play some key roles. We have a few guys we would like to look at in the heat of the battle.”
*** Colorado Video released a trailer for their new series titled “The Rise.” As always, John Snelson, Jamie Guy and their team delivered: https://twitter.com/cu_video/status/764102604557168641