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Gilyard will bring talent and personality with him to Rams

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  • Gilyard will bring talent and personality with him to Rams

    Combination of 'Bradford-to-Gilyard' hopefully will become a common refrain ..

    By Alvin Reid

    Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Forget Sam Bradford; the guy to talk to this weekend during the St. Louis Rams rookie minicamp will be fourth-round pick Mardy Gilyard.

    Sure the cameras will follow the first-round quarterback phenom’s every move. But the guy who will most likely catch most of his passes at the Russell Training Center is bringing more than talent to this team.

    Gilyard has flair; personality; panache.

    He also wasn’t disappointed at being drafted in the fourth round; many scouts and NFL personnel staffs had him being selected a bit higher.

    "I thought I was going to be one of the top guys taken as far as wide receivers,” he said during a conference call Saturday. “But God has a plan for everybody, so I just tried to stay focused and deal with it.”

    Gilyard’s college career shows that he lost focus in the classroom, regained it while playing in a football league most of us never heard of and grew into a top-echelon receiver.

    And all this happened after he played cornerback as a freshman.

    While driving to Florida in March I heard Gilyard on a national show and became a fan. He was witty while telling the story of his trip to the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and clever while working the “$5 dollar foot-long” Subway song into the interview.

    Listeners had to laugh as he described NFL scouts and doctors “pulling on my big toe and twisting it.”

    “I had stubbed my toe two years ago, didn’t miss a practice let alone a game. But they all kept asking “how’s the toe?'" he said.

    He made an impression on the St. Louis media when asked what he was going to do during the remaining hours of Saturday after he was selected.

    “I’m about to go crabbing,” he said from his Bunnell, Fla., home and cracked the place up when he said the desired bait is chicken necks.

    In fact, he was responsible for catching some of the dinner for the draft party at his home later that evening.

    The Rams added wide receiver Mardy Gilyard from Cincinnati with their pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft on Saturday.
    “Crabbing is an old school way of catching crabs. I’m from the backwoods and we’re country folk back here, so we’ll be in the backlands or the backwoods here in Florida not too far from where my parents stay at. It’s just old school - chicken necks, string and netting - just kind of catching crabs. Go for what you know,” he explained.

    “We’re actually throwing a big party for me here in a couple hours, so I’ve got to be the man to bring back some crabs. “

    He certainly won some female fans when he admitted that he calls his mother “my sugar wooga ooga booga” and “my everything.”

    He also took reporters back to his childhood.

    “As a kid you’re always doing the little countdown, ‘3-2-1, I’ve scored the winning touchdown!’ “I’m going pro!”
    But Gilyard’s road to the pros was anything but easy.

    First, he had to prove that a two-star ranking from after his senior season in high school did not mean he could not become a college All-American and then play pro football.

    Recruited as a cornerback in 2005, Gilyard displayed his skill on the field, but not academically. He was redshirted in 2006 for academic reasons.

    He is far from unintelligent; so it’s obvious he didn’t take his classes seriously.
    He put his time to good use, though.

    He attended school and played for the Cincinnati Kings Comets of the Mid-Continental Football League. He wasn’t risking his eligibility because MCFL teams are comprised of unpaid athletes and volunteer staff

    In 2007 Gilyard was switched to receiver and started seven games. He snagged 36 passes for 536 yards and three touchdowns.

    As the Bearcats grew into a national power, Gilyard became a nationally recognized talent. In 2008 he had 81 receptions for 1,276 yards and 11 touchdowns. In 2009 he won All-American honors with 87 receptions for 1,191 yards and 11 touchdowns.

    At the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., he had 103 yards receiving and a touchdown and was named offensive player of the game.
    But maybe the best moments of Gilyard’s brilliant career was in December when Kelly abandoned his undefeated team to take the Notre Dame head coaching position.
    Many of his teammates openly criticized Kelly and full-scale mutiny was at hand before Gilyard and several other seniors pulled the team together.

    The Bearcats got trounced by Florida in the Sugar Bowl, but Gilyard made sure his team showed up and played hard.
    He’ll bring the same intensity - and personality – to St. Louis.

    The Rams are sorely in need of more than just wins. The franchise needs reasons to get fans excited and interested in the team.
    Gilyard can get it done. He proved it at Cincinnati, even though there were some dark days at the beginning of his career.
    “Now that I’ve actually heard my name called and knowing that I’m going to be a Ram, that’s a blessing,” he said.

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Gilyard Shows Perseverance
    by r8rh8rmike
    Gilyard shows perseverance


    Mardy Gilyard did a little bit of everything waiting for his name to be called during the NFL draft. He watched some of the draft coverage on TV. He went outside to relax with his family. Played with his dog. Went fishing.

    But Round 1 on Thursday, and Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday, came and went without his name called. When he finally got the call Saturday morning, he was about to go crabbing.


    "Crabbing is an old school way of catching crabs," Gilyard said Saturday in a conference call with St. Louis reporters. "I'm from the backwoods, and we're country folk back here. ... Chicken necks (as bait), string and netting — just kind of catching crabs.

    "We're actually throwing a big party for me here in a couple hours, so I've got to be the man to bring back some crabs. Everybody loves seafood."

    Everybody loves a good human interest story, too, and that's Gilyard, the University of Cincinnati wide receiver drafted in the fourth round by the Rams.

    Less than four months earlier, Gilyard had related some of his experiences growing up to reporters attending the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, once breaking down into tears. He grew up in poverty and with an allegedly abusive father in Bunnell, Fla., a tiny town near the northeast coast of Florida.

    They ate mayonnaise sandwiches. And syrup sandwiches. Took their cereal with water when there was no milk. And when there was milk, sometimes added sugar to it for added flavor. Gilyard said he was so skinny he was "like a lollipop."

    At times the electricity was shut off because the bills weren't paid. But with the help of his mother, Viola Gilyard Crudup, and his older brother Otis (now a Flagler County, Fla., police officer), Gilyard got through. All the way through to a football scholarship far away from home in Ohio.

    But there were struggles and heartache in Cincinnati as well. Following his freshman season in 2005, Gilyard had his scholarship pulled because of academic problems. Unable to afford tuition and housing, Gilyard worked three jobs: construction, pizza delivery and selling cutlery door-to-door. For months, he slept in a car.

    By the fall of '07 he had righted himself, was back in school, and back on the team. The rest is, well, Bearcats history. As a junior in '08, Gliyard was named All-Big East Conference as a receiver and a returner, catching 82 passes for a school-record 1,276 yards and scoring two touchdowns on kickoff returns.

    As a senior last fall, Gilyard was an All-American, finishing second nationally in all-purpose yards, averaging 206.9 a game. He caught a school-record 87 passes for 1,191 yards, and added two more TDs on kickoff returns and another TD on a punt return.
    -04-26-2010, 10:34 PM
  • Varg6
    Rams rookie Mardy Gilyard goes from 'Rags to Riches'
    by Varg6
    Per Yahoo

    By Chris Chase

    Four years ago, Mardy Gilyard(notes) had his athletic scholarship revoked, was working four jobs in order to pay a $10,000 debt to the school and spent his nights homeless in a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am. Now, he's an NFL wide receiver.

    After being kicked out of the University of Cincinnati for academic reasons following his freshman year, Gilyard wanted to return home to Florida, a move which likely would have ended his football career. His mom and older brother convinced him to stay in Ohio, though, and Gilyard says during that stretch he grew up from the "knucklehead, arrogant, cocky, immature" kid he was. He worked four jobs (including as a pizza delivery man and door-to-door knife salesman) in order to fulfill his financial obligation to the school, a decision which paid off when new Coach Brian Kelly(notes) reinstated him to the team. Gilyard left the Bearcats as the all-time leading receiver in school history.

    The offense-deficient Rams selected him with the first pick in the fourth round of last month's draft and expect the smooth route-runner to contribute this year alongside fellow rookie Sam Bradford(notes). Gilyard also returned punts during last weekend's minicamp.

    Give me a guy like Gilyard any day over a player with more talent but questionable work ethic. Success and failure in the NFL has much less to do with 40 times and bench press reps than it does with wanting it and knowing what it takes to get it. Gilyard could have turned his back on his debt, moved home and harbored delusions of making the NFL without ever really working for it. Instead, he lived in a car, paid off the money he owed, got back in the good graces of Cincinnati and earned his spot in the NFL.
    "I went from rags to riches," he told USA Today.

    "It just showed I'm a hard worker and that I could fight through adversity. That's all the game of football is: It's about fighting through adversity."

    If that's the case, Gilyard should have a long and prosperous career in the front of him.
    -05-12-2010, 05:58 AM
  • harrydog
    Mardy Gilyard
    by harrydog
    I notice there seems to be a lot of resentment toward Gilyard around here. I agree that it's unlikely he'll be around once the season starts but I think much of the criticism directed at him is somewhat unwarranted.
    Yes, he appears to be a slow learner. Different players have different learning curves. I also don't know why so many people are saying he doesn't want to work hard at making the team. That's pure speculation. He has proven to be a determined person, willing to work hard in the past.
    Remember that he missed minicamp because the University of Cincinnati hadn't held graduation yet. He had a pulled hamstring that kept him out of a game or two and he had a nagging wrist injury that required surgery after the season.
    I think that given time he would have been an effective weapon for Bradford and I expect that he will eventually be productive for an NFL team somewhere. Things have not gone well for him in St. Louis but he's a good person and I hope he finds success wherever he ends up.
    -06-06-2011, 06:27 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Gilyard Playing Catch Up
    by r8rh8rmike
    Gilyard Playing Catch Up
    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    About 10 minutes after their teammates had cleared the practice fields at the Russell Training Center, rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard remained in place.

    The duo that could potentially be the next great passer-receiver combo in Rams history has designs on making their presence felt right away.

    “It is nice to have him here,” Bradford said. “Now that he’s here we are going to try to put in as much work as possible. It’s good for us to stay after practice. I am learning, he’s learning and hopefully we can get on the same page.”

    While Bradford and Gilyard were pretty much on the same page as the rest of the rookies at April’s rookie minicamp, it’s safe to say Bradford and the rest of the rookie class is a chapter or so ahead of Gilyard at this weekend’s full squad minicamp.

    After completing those five practices in April, Gilyard was forced to head back to Cincinnati before returning for this weekend’s minicamp. NCAA rules state that a drafted player must stay with his school until his graduating class has completed its coursework.

    There are no exceptions to the rule so even though Gilyard withdrew from classes before the semester to prepare for the draft; he had to return to his school until the time was right.

    The time became right Thursday as Gilyard arrived in St. Louis and went through his first practice with the team since May 1. With a little rust on him in terms of his knowledge of the playbook, it was no surprise to see Gilyard working closely with Bradford to try to get up to speed.

    “It’s just another tool that I’m using – working with my quarterback – trying to get in and go over more plays,” Gilyard said. “He gives me a small percentage of plays after practice to try to keep me brushed up on what we are doing and keep me in line.”

    For the past month-plus, while his teammates have been going through organized team activities leading into this final minicamp, Gilyard has been doing whatever possible to stay up to speed so that he wouldn’t be too far behind on his return.

    In Cincinnati, Gilyard says he worked out regularly with current Bearcats quarterback Zach Collaros catching passes and running routes so that he could at least try to simulate what he had learned in his short time in St. Louis.

    Of course, the Rams did their best to try to keep him on schedule from a distance. They provided Gilyard with pieces of the playbook as well as video for him to study. For conditioning, Gilyard had a regiment he was to follow so that he wouldn’t be grasping for air when he got back for this week’s minicamp.

    “There was that going on,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “He was lifting and running. You don’t want to come out here...
    -06-10-2010, 07:14 PM
  • MauiRam
    Gilyard living dream despite slow NFL start ..
    by MauiRam
    December 22nd 2010

    Mardy Gilyard sounded like Jimmy Stewart at the end of "It's a Wonderful Life" this week.

    Here he is, just a few games from the finish of what looks to be a disappointing rookie season in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, and yet, just listen to the former Flagler Palm Coast star talk and tell me he's not channeling George Bailey.

    "Man, this life is a dream, a total dream," Gilyard said. "Every day I get to come to work and see (Rams rookie QB) Sam (Bradford), a guy who's going to be one of the great quarterbacks in the league. I get to see Roger Saffold, a great rookie offensive lineman. I get to talk (star running back) Steven Jackson's ear off all the time.

    "I've got the perfect teammates, the perfect coaches, the perfect situation. I couldn't ask for anything more."

    Yeah, the guy sounds real disappointed.

    And yet the 24-year-old rookie hasn't caught a pass or returned a kick since Week 6, and last week he was put on the inactive list for the third time this season.

    For the year, he has caught caught just six passes for 63 yards and is averaging 22.3 yards per kickoff return, 31st in the league for players with 10 or more returns.

    In short, the electrifying player so many fell in love with the past five years at the University of Cincinnati hasn't made his mark in the NFL.

    Always an optimist, Gilyard said he is using this year as a learning experience, and he regrets he wasn't more prepared when his "moment" came when the Rams gave him his first NFL start Oct. 17 versus San Diego.

    "I just kept questioning myself that day, like, 'Am I running the right route' or 'What's the call here?' " said Gilyard, who left the Chargers game in the second half with a hamstring injury. "I hadn't been studying my playbook as hard as I should have, and I was way too slow doing some basic things."

    "After that game. I was determined to make sure that, from now on, my quarterback knew that I knew exactly what I was doing."

    Rams wide receivers coach Nolan Cromwell said he has been pleased by Gilyard's progress, even though all three of Gilyard's inactive games have come since the start against the Chargers.

    "One thing that was tough is we made him learn all the different (receiver) positions at the start, and that's hard for a rookie," Cromwell said. "He's progressing really well now; his practices are more crisp, and he's become more instinctive.

    "It's just been hard for him to get playing time because the guys ahead of him are playing well and we've had injuries at other positions (that required other players to be active for depth)."

    Gilyard said he...
    -03-20-2011, 12:23 PM