Gilmore Wants First SEC Championship at USC

Stephon Gilmore is one of the most talented, versatile players in the entire country, and this week he will be bringing those talents to the University of South Carolina. Read inside as Gilmore discusses a wealth of topics with including his thoughts on the in-state rivalry, his illustrious high school career and what he hopes to accomplish while at South Carolina.

Interview with 2009 South Carolina Commitment Stephon Gilmore

Question: The big day is coming up, you're about to enroll at South Carolina, what's going through your head right now?

Answer: I mean I'm just looking forward to it. I'm real excited about coming in early and getting to know my class and working hard and trying to help South Carolina.

Question: Do you know who you're rooming with?

Answer: I'm rooming with Devonte and I think Jarvis Giles.

Question: Looking back to high school, you were a player on one of the first teams ever at South Pointe. You kind of grew up with that program and your senior year you were able to lead them to an undefeated championship season. What does all of that mean to you?

Answer: It feels good. I mean we really grew up playing at Saluda Trail my eighth grade and seventh grade year and went undefeated there. We went undefeated my ninth grade year. And then we moved up and in the tenth grade we were 3-8 my first year on varsity. Then we were like 9-4 my junior year. And we went undefeated my senior year, we learned from all our mistakes and worked hard.

Question: Do you feel like you senior class kind of set the stage for all the underclassmen to look up at you and realize this is what South Pointe football is supposed to be all about?

Answer: Yes sir, I think we showed them that it can be done you've just got to work hard and learn from your mistakes.

Question: Looking at your recruitment, at one time you were a Clemson lean, was there a time that you could see yourself playing there?

Answer: I mean I liked Clemson, but Clemson just wasn't in my heart. I mean when I looked at it all, and I went on my official visits... South Carolina, they were just right for me.

Question: How much impact would you say Ellis Johnson had in your decision? Answer: He had a big part in it. He came in late, but I got to know him real (well). Coach Spurrier, he wants to use me on the offensive side of the ball, too. They both played a part in it.

Question: What about guys like Chris Payne, Mario Jeffery and even your teammate Charles Holmes? How much did they push you to go to South Carolina?

Answer: Yeah, they got in my ear a little bit, but I still had to do what was best for me, it just happened to be South Carolina.

Question: You mentioned Coach Spurrier wants to do some things with you on offense, has he been specific about that and what type of packages he plans to use you in?

Answer: I know he says he wants to play me at quarterback and run the zone-read and stuff like that. I'll probably have some plays at wide receiver, but it's primarily going to be quarterback stuff.

Question: With Captain Munnerlyn likely going pro, has the staff talked to you about coming in and having the opportunity to start as a freshman at corner back?

Answer: Yes sir, but I mean I'm not going to say (that), I've just got to go in there and work hard and try to prove myself back over again, just go out there and try to help South Carolina out.

Question: You've played about every position possible. Do you have a favorite?

Answer: I don't really have a favorite position. I just want to try to get the ball, without the ball you can't doing anything. I just try to go get the ball.

Question: You were Mr. Football in South Carolina, Shrine Bowl S.C. Offensive MVP, and had an interception on national TV in the Under Armour game, how does all of that feel?

Answer: I'm glad I accomplished all of that, but now I've got to go to college and try to put it all behind me and do it all again at South Carolina.

Question: You got to play with some guys from all around the country in the Under Armour game. What was that step up in competition like, do you think it was a little glimpse into what it will be like in college?

Answer: To me, it really wasn't that different. I guess, it was the top players in the nation, but I really thought I could make plays and just do what I do and just play football.

Question: You know the one thing people say when they see you play is that you just make it look easy. What is it about your game that you are able to make things look so effortless? Is that something you can put into words?

Answer: I mean to me I just work hard; I stay in the weight room. (On the field) it's just instinct. The first thing I see, the first thing that comes to my head, I just do.

Question: Speaking of working hard, winter workouts will be coming up at USC, have you been told anything about those yet?

Answer: I mean I've heard about it. (Laughs) I'm going to be ready for them. I mean, I'm going to work hard. I'm not going to give up. I know it will make me better as a player.

Question: You and Devonte Holloman are long-time friends, what does it mean to be able to be able to enroll early at the same time with him?

Answer: It feels good that I can go in with someone that will be going through the same things I'm going through. We can just talk about stuff. We're friends and we talk everyday so it's a good thing.

Question: You will have an extra semester on most freshmen. How much do you believe going through spring practice is going to help you?

Answer: I think it's going to help me a lot. Some players told me that learning the playbook is probably one of the first things you've got to know and I'll have a jump on everybody.

Question: Is there a player, college or pro, or childhood favorite, that you model your game after?

Answer: (When he was) in college, I liked watching Charles Woodson. He was a cornerback, lined up at wide receiver and won the Heisman. I like him. I like Devin Hester too.

Question: When you step out there in the Garnet and Black for the first time and these fans see you for the first time, what do you want them to notice about you?

Answer: That I give 100 percent every time I step on the field.

Question: Do you have anything you do before a game that gets you hyped up?

Answer: I don't really get hyped up before the game like that. I just pray before the game. I'm not the kind of person that like gets hyped. I'm a quiet type person; I just like to play football. That's what I basically do, just pray and focus and have my game-face on.

Question: You grew up in South Carolina. You were recruited by South Carolina and Clemson. What are your thoughts on the rivalry?

Answer: I mean that's probably the most people that go to a college game in South Carolina (when the two teams play each other.) I'm going to take it real seriously. I'm not going to say I hate Clemson, but that's like when we played our cross-town rival Northwestern. That's a game that you just can't wait to play in.

Question: What do you think it is about the rivalry that even though the talent level has been similar lately South Carolina has struggled to beat Clemson?

Answer: It just seems like their defense has been good (against Clemson), but the offense has struggled some. It just seems like stuff isn't clicking and we need players like this recruiting class coming in just to help them out and get better and get over the edge.

Question: Do you know what number you're going to be yet?

Answer: I want No. 5, but if I play both ways I don't know. But they said I could get it because Carlos Thomas is leaving.

Question: Steve Spurrier's vision has been to win the first ever SEC Championship at USC. If you were involved with the first team to do that, what would that mean to you?

Answer: It would mean a lot. I mean I won a state championship; I want to win a SEC Championship. It would be something to remember to win a first ever SEC Championship at South Carolina.

Question: What do you believe South Carolina has to do to take that next step as a program?

Answer: It's players like that are in this class that can come in (and help). They've just got to come in and play as a team and just have positive attitudes and have a lot of leaders on the team and stuff like that.

Question: Lastly, do you have a message for Gamecock Nation out there?

Answer: I'm just ready to come in and work hard and try to help South Carolina win an SEC Championship.

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