Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
After a career that included some sensational moments and personal trials, Colorado’s Addison Gillam has elected to move on from football.
Gillam, an inside linebacker who was a key piece to CU’s top-20 defense last season, has decided to forego his final season of eligibility and is currently hiking the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.
Last weekend, Gillam started a page on GoFundMe.com to raise money to pay for supplies during his journey. As of Thursday morning, he had received more than $1,200 in donations.
CU’s compliance office would not comment on Gillam’s situation specifically, but acknowledged that setting up a GoFundMe.com page violates NCAA rules if Gillam were to continue playing, stating, “It is not permissible for a student-athlete to set up their own crowd-funding website and use their name to solicit funds to purchase items without jeopardizing their eligibility.”
Gillam, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology last May and spent last season working toward a graduate degree, took what head coach Mike MacIntyre called “a sabbatical” during the spring. Gillam was on the roster throughout the spring, but is no longer enrolled in school and is now officially off the roster, according to CU.
On his GoFundMe.com page, Gillam, who turns 23 on Friday, wrote that he’s been playing football since he was 6 years old and hiking the Appalachian Trail offers him a new challenge.
“Living a specific schedule for such a long time that I wanted to experience something new and something that fits well into my interests,” he wrote. “Following the hike I plan on getting a job as a firefighter and I believe this experience will be beneficial.”
During his time at CU, Gillam had some great moments on the field, but also dealt with injuries and personal trials that nearly led him to leaving the game two years ago.
Gillam, who grew up in northern California, signed with San Jose State in 2012, when MacIntyre was still the head coach for the Spartans. Gillam was planning to grayshirt and enroll at San Jose State for the spring 2013 semester, but chose to come to CU after MacIntyre was hired by the Buffs in December 2012.
As a true freshman in 2013, Gillam was a unanimous first-team Freshman All-American. He led the team with 119 tackles, the most ever for a CU freshman. He’s the only true freshman in program history to lead the team in tackles.
During the 2014 season, Gillam dealt with injuries, illness and some personal trials, but managed to play in 11 games and finish second on the team with 79 tackles. That season, Gillam and quarterback Sefo Liufau were the first permanent captains elected as sophomores in CU history.
As a junior in 2015, Gillam suffered a knee injury early in the second game and missed the remainder of the season, using it as a medical redshirt year.
CU eased Gillam back into action last season, and while he was still bothered by the knee injury, he played in all 14 games, splitting time with Rick Gamboa at inside linebacker.
Gillam played an integral role in CU’s resurgent 10-4 season, helping the Buffs win the Pac-12 South division. Although 13th on the team with 393 defensive snaps played, he finished fifth with 66 tackles and a career-high four sacks.
Gillam’s pass rush and crushing hits against Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins helped the Buffs to a convincing 40-16 win against the Sun Devils last season.
Gillam also had exceptional games in wins against Oregon State, Washington State and Utah, played well in a loss to USC and had a season-high 11 tackles in the Pac-12 title game against Washington.
For his career, Gillam recorded 270 tackles, which ranks 23rd in CU history. He also had 10.5 sacks, 26 tackles for loss and 35 third-down stops during his career.