His first day of Pop Warner, Lin Gillham weighed all of 50 pounds and, in his words, got beat up.
“Honestly, looking back I don’t know why I stuck with it,” Gillham said.
But Gillham, a Grace Community senior, stuck with it.
Working through his high school career to bulk up — at times he’d eat every two hours, even waking up at 2:30 a.m. to get more calories in him — Gillham turned into one of Grace’s top receivers.
On Tuesday, Gillham commited to continue his football career at Mary Hardin-Baylor, the 2012-13 NCAA Division III semifinalists, who went 13-1 last season.
“It seems surreal,” Gillham said. “It doesn’t seem like I’m about to go play college football somewhere.”
In 2012 he was second on the team in receptions (30) and yardage (538), with six touchdowns. He also led the team with three interceptions on defense while recording 62 tackles, though he’ll only play offense for the Cru.
Gillham was always the smaller kid growing up and used that as motivation to become bigger, stronger and faster.
“I had that to work with and the fact that I had a chip on my shoulder and I was able to work with that,” Gillham said. “It was hard. I don’t think there’s been a summer where I’ve skipped a workout. I think that’s just because I like the game so much.”
That love for the game came from his father, Bob, who passed up a chance to play football at Air Force.
“He wanted to make sure that I had my opportunities and I guess that day’s finally come and I’ve grasped it,” Gillham said.
Gillham achieved those goals through the support of his family, friends and coaches.
“It’s been my dream since I was young,” Gillham said. “I never really did think it would be a possibility but … they put me in a place where I can go on to the next level.
“That’s just an appreciation that I don’t know how to express.”