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Notre Dame Football

Alohi Gilman Focused On Leadership Skills While Rehabbing Injury

April 10, 2019

When he gained eligibility for Notre Dame, Alohi Gilman injected new life into a safety position that had been a liability for the Irish defense for the previous two years. Now the budding superstar wants to focus on his leadership position for the upcoming season. 

“I look at myself as a leader and a captain, as a guy who’s willing and able to lead our guys and step into that role,” Gilman stated. “I’m going as the process goes, but I’m not afraid to step into that role. Guys like Te’von [Coney] and Drue [Tranquill] led me and pushed me to that position now, and I’ve learned from them. So now I’m able to be in that role where I can share and explain and be the leader that I can be.”

The former Navy transfer was a tremendous addition to Notre Dame’s defense, immediately filling a need at safety while providing a leadership presence in the secondary. That leadership mentality is carrying over to this season, and he’s looking to help the young safeties grow. Gilman stressed the importance of paying attention to film for inexperienced safeties.

“Starting with film room, it’s something that you need to play safety, not just watching film to watch it,” explained Gilman. “But watching it for the right purpose, and being detailed and intentional with the work you put out, valuing every rep whether it’s individual or live reps. That’s something I’ve learned last year with Coach Joseph, and now I’m trying to pass it on. Coach told me and Jalen (Elliott) to show the young guys how it is to play here and play safety here.”

Unfortunately, Gilman has been battling an abdominal injury that’s kept him sidelined for the majority of spring ball. 

“That’s been the biggest challenge for me since January,” the Hawaiian native spoke of his injury. “I want to go and have to step back a little and relax a little bit is tough. I want to be out there with my guys and I have goals I want to accomplish, so it’s been a different process that I’m not used to.”

Gilman battled this same injury leading up to the Cotton Bowl against Clemson last season, and the Irish coaches and trainers are easing him back into his practice routine. Although he hasn’t been getting the practice reps he’s used to, he is still focused on his role with the team and hasn’t stepped back from his responsibilities as a captain. 

“Having to stop and focus on recovery and rehab has been tough because I want to be out there with my guys,” Gilman said. “I wasn’t able to do all the things I wanted to in order to set the example as a leader. But at the same time, I was able to work on myself both physically and in terms of leadership, so it’s been a good trial for me.”

Gilman’s status for the Blue-Gold game is still uncertain, but the star safety feels he’s getting closer and closer to being full strength.

“I feel probably about 85 or 90 percent [healthy],” stated Gilman. “I feel good and I’m on the right track and I’m progressing really well. I could go right now. I actually played with this injury in November and December. December was really bad, but I kind of just ate it up and kept going.”

Despite having limited reps in spring practice, Alohi Gilman and the rest of Notre Dame’s secondary are working towards building trust and chemistry together.

“We’re working together, just finding that chemistry,” he explained. “Me and Julian Love had great chemistry towards the end of the season, where right hand knows the left hand. Hopefully, we can get to that point as well.”

Gilman also pointed out the adjustments necessary to lead a different, younger team.

“Obviously you take what you learn from last season, but you realize it’s a whole different team, whole different culture and system in terms of personnel, people and personalities,” Gilman said. “So that’s where you realize what you can do to fit in and be the guy who can rally these players around me. The things that worked last year might not work this year, so being that leader where I can adjust to the team and being someone people can go to.”

Gilman trailed only Te’von Coney in total tackles last year, and his three forced fumbles tied him with Jerry Tillery for the team lead. As he continues to grow, he’s focused on working toward regaining his strength and continuing to exhibit his leadership skills.

“I’ve been able to do my job first and foremost, just showing an example to the other guys,” said Gilman. “We have a lot of young guys, so just being an example that I can with the few reps that I have and show them the ropes.”

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