The competition between true freshman Marquis Spruill and junior Ryan Gillum for an outside linebacker spot has become one of the highlights of training camp. If you know about Ryan Gillum, a roster battle is not something unfamiliar to him. It’s also been a busy calendar year for the young man who was involved with Delone Carter in Snowball-Gate.
Last year at this time, Gillum was trying to win the weakside linebacker job against then true freshman EJ Carter. Doug Marrone sized up the competition at the time
“Ryan Gillum is going to be an interesting one. He came off an injury last year and really didn’t run well in the spring. We really didn’t know what type of player he was. Everyone kept telling me he had run well prior to the injury. Again, our trainers did a tremendous job. The kid did a tremendous job, the weight coaches, and he’s run very well. It’ll be very interesting. That is a competition there. That is a competition.”
The Fizz documented Carter’s familiar dismissal from the team in the spring and his transfer to N.C. State. So for the second straight year, Gillum finds himself battling a new guy for a job that he probably thinks he should have already locked up by now.
Spruill on the other hand, is used to being the underdog. When he left high school, he didn’t have any college offers and ended up at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. No big – he took that year to turn himself into a college ready product at a place where Vinny Testaverde, Eddie George, and Plaxico Burress had done it before him.
Does it hurt to have true freshmen on the field? Not if you’ve ever heard of Philip or Shamarko Thomas. They both started against Louisville (yes, one of the worst games of the year) BUT helped hold the Cards to just 10 points.
So despite all the rough patches this team has gone through throughout camp, the battle for a position is a good sign. In years past, we’ve had players switching spots out of desperation because of injuries and a shallow depth chart. This newest battle means the program is growing in both numbers and talent.