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Gillem, FHS alumnus ‘gang of six’ mix it up as UT football Vols


You fulfill a childhood athletic dream of wearing the Vol Orange and you befriend a star player with a legendary football name.

Those were the best things about Adam Gillem’s early days as a freshman walk-on with the nationally-respected University of Tennessee football program.

The 6-foot-2, 230 pounder also took a beating, had a standout lineman picking fights with him — and a coach verbally tearing him to shreds.

Now a junior fullback/lineman who is one of six former Farragut High School football standouts now on UT’s Volunteer Squad (non-scholarship), Gillem, 21, said suiting up with the Vols has been “my dream, I guess, since I’ve been five years old, when I moved to Knoxville, and I came out here and had the goal of running out of the T and putting this jersey on and doing the Vol-Walk. It’s just been a dream-come-true for me.”

He currently shares that dream with former FHS Admirals Andrew Koszela, Dylan Dickey, Nick Reveiz, Brett Barnes and Court Courtney.

Despite football opportunities Gillem said he had at Middle Tennessee State, Carson-Newman and Sewanee, “Coming here every Saturday in the fall was where I wanted to be, even if I walked on or just coming to the games, just for my love of Tennessee,” he said.

As for his goal, “In a way I guess I’ve reached some of my goals,” Gillem said. “I’d certainly love to see the field at some point. I feel like I’ve earned the respect of the coaches.”

Jimmy Ray Stephens, former offensive line coach, was one of those coaches. But it took a lot of “chewing out” to get there.

“He would chew my butt out quite often,” Gillem said. “He certainly worked hard on me. At times I said, ‘I don’t know why I’m out here.’ But the thing was, that was one of my best relationships by the time he ended up having to be fired [after last season]. He was one of my favorite coaches, and we became pretty tight, actually.”

“When I got here, Michael Munoz actually was a real good friend of mine, certainly always inspired me to keep going, always giving me encouragement,” Gillem said about the All-SEC offensive lineman. “He’s just a man of character, he looked out for every guy on the team.

“He saw me working hard against them, I‘d make him work harder and he appreciated it, he saw my heart throughout that,” Gillem added. “I’d be playing defensive end, working to make him better, and in the long-run make me better.”

Gillem also remembers “actual competition” with former Vol standout lineman Albert Toeaina that got testy at times.

“We would get going, and any time I’d get him, he’d come back starting to fight a little bit or whatnot with me,” the former Admiral lineman said. “It was a nice competition always between me and him. We ended up having a pretty good friendship, too.”

Despite “the sun making you want to be a coward, I feel like I’ve become stronger every day I’ve been here,” Gillem said. “Every-thing’s fun from here on out as long as we start winning the games like we’ve accustomed to doing.”

An exercise science major, “I hope to go to physical therapy school,” Gillem said.

COURT COURTNEY

“I’ve always dreamed of playing her at U-T,” said Courtney, a true freshman and 2005 FHS graduate. “It’s an honor to be out here.”

A 6-foot-1, 230 pound fullback, Courtney, 19, admitted to being “really intimidated” upon his first Vol football experience last spring. “Whenever I was first out there I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m with some of the best athletes in the country. But I guess the more and more I’m out there the more comfortable I get, and I get a lot more confident. I’m starting to be able to compete out there.

“I’d love to get out there and play, I don’t know how long it’s going to take,” Courtney added. “That’s always my goal.

“But I think either way I’m going to come out a better person by being out here.”

REVEIZ

“It’s humbling ... and it’s frustrating at times,” said true freshman linebacker Nick Reveiz, a two-time Class AAA All-state linebacker at FHS an two-time Division I wrestling champ in the 215-pound class.

“Come to one of our scrimmages and you’ll see me just fidgiting on the sidelines ’cause I want to get in so bad,” the 5-foot-10, 230-pounder said. It’s hard sitting on the sideline, I’ve never done that my whole life. ... I really want to get in there. I’ve had a lot of hard nights thinking about things and talking to coaches. But hopefully, one day if I keep working hard I think I’ll get there.”

Reveiz, 18, said he may be red-shirted in 2006.

BARNES

Barnes, 20, a 2004 FHS graduate who’s now a 6-foot-1, 230-pound linebacker, said he’s at UT “because I thought I had the potential to play at Tennessee, or at least contribute in one way or another.”

DICKEY

Dickey, a 21-year-old junior quarterback and 2004 FHS graduate, said “it’s been fun for everybody” in the FHS clan. “I think we all enjoy doing it.”

KOSZELA

Koszela, 21, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound defensive end and 2003 FHS graduate, is a transfer from Tusculum College. “I kinda wanted a challenge, kinda wanted a change of scenery,” he said.

 

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