April 29, 2008

With Hefney as model, Gilmore shines

As a middle school student in Rock Hill, S.C., Stephon Gilmore watched as Jonathan Hefney dominated the competition at the local YMCA. Hefney left the small South Carolina town to play his college ball at Tennessee and in the process served as motivation for Gilmore, who looked up to Hefney growing up.

"Jon Hefney is from Rock Hill, and he talked good about them (Tennessee)," Gilmore said. "I met him in eighth grade at the YMCA. I looked up to him because he was the key player at Rock Hill."

Gilmore is now the one that kids look up to in Rock Hill. It's a role that he enjoys because it allows him to work with the local youth and be a positive influence.

"It's a good feeling," Gilmore said. "I tell the kids that this don't come easy. I tell them that they have to keep their head on straight and work hard if they want to become a good player."

As his junior year winds down, Gilmore is prepping for what he hopes will be a monster senior campaign.

"It's good," Gilmore said. "I'm running track right now. I was already fast, but I want to get faster and my secondary coach thought I could do that by running track. We are trying to qualify for the state 4x100 meet."

Gilmore (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) plays both quarterback and safety for Rock Hill, but at the next level almost every school is recruiting him to play defensive back because of his unique combination of size and speed.

"Every coach is recruiting me as a corner," Gilmore said. "I can play safety too, but I'm a big corner who can come up and jam the receiver. I have good hips and I like to hit and tackle. I love to play physical."

As the quarterback of the defense, Gilmore says he is able to pick up on things that the opposition is doing and get to the ball faster.

"I can tell what the quarterback is going to do before he does it," Gilmore said. "It's the instincts of also playing quarterback. It allows me to pick things up quicker."

Hoping to graduate early and enroll at the college of his choice in January, Gilmore has a long way to go before he makes that decision.

"I've not been to any schools," Gilmore said. "I can't narrow it down till I get a chance to see everyone. I hope to do that this summer. I want to make my decision during the football season."

South Carolina, Clemson, Tennessee, Florida State and North Carolina State have all been hot on Gilmore's trail. As of late, Ohio State has jumped head first into the Rock Hill race.

Hefney has told Gilmore about the Vols and the Tennessee coaching staff has done a nice job of building a relationship with the Palmetto State standout.

"I like Tennessee," Gilmore said. "I talk to coach (Larry) Slade and (Dan) Brooks every week. I like them, they seem cool. I also have talked to Phillip Fulmer and I really like him."

Rivals.com rates Gilmore as a 4-star athlete and a member of the Rivals 250 in the class of 2009.

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