Injury-plagued Gillmore brothers ready to lead CSU football into new season

In the state of Texas, football and family are two of the most important things in life.

For CSU tight ends Austin and Crockett Gillmore, being from the small town of Bushland, Texas meant playing Division-I football with each other was a top priority.

“I was gonna go wherever he was at,” said Crockett, who graduated high school a year after Austin. “Just having us together here was awesome, we always thought it would be cool to play D-I, but we didn’t know that we were gonna have the opportunity.”

The Gillmore brothers didn’t always know that they would be able to play very much of their collegiate careers together.

Austin has just fully recovered from a third ACL surgery of his football career, and Crockett battled through injuries last season before being knocked out of action when he sustained a knee injury in the Rams’ final game of 2011 against Wyoming.

Now completely healthy, Austin, a senior, and Crockett, a junior, have embraced the roles of team leaders, serving as a veteran presence on a young team with a new coaching staff.

“I think the coaching change really helped out because it was a chance for everybody to start over,” Austin said. “They put me in a better role in being a captain on this team and a leader and I’ve really had to step up.”

Coming out as leaders of the team has been important for the Gillmore brothers, but what has impressed teammates even more has been their production on the field.

Crockett was named to the Mackey Award watch list the last two years, competing for the title of most outstanding tight end in the country, while Austin has impressed coaches as he vies to play in his first complete season without sustaining an injury.

“(Assistant head coach Billy Napier) has said, ‘that (Austin) Gillmore kid is really surprising me,’” quarterback Garrett Grayson said. “And then Crockett, everybody knows about Crockett Gillmore. He’s been nominated for these awards, so he’s gonna be that guy that he was last year, that go-to guy.”

While the Gillmore brothers have enjoyed leading the rest of the Rams during practice, they maintain that they each have always found it easy to communicate with one another when watching the other play.

“He could come off the field and I can tell him what he’s doing right or what he’s doing wrong,” Austin said. “I know the offense a little better and know the position so I can help him a lot.”

Whether it’s coaching one another from the sidelines, or helping each other in making on-the-field adjustments, Austin and Crockett have always been there for each other.

Over the course of the last two years, Austin has switched from a tight end to a fullback to now becoming a sort of fullback-tight end hybrid, while Crockett converted from a defensive lineman to a tight end last spring.

“He’s really helped me,” Austin said. “I’m not really a tight end type, but it’s mainly with footwork and hand placement and he’s taught me about really (it being) down to footwork when it comes to the position of tight end.”

Throughout the offseason for CSU, coach McElwain and the rest of the Rams have stressed the importance of turning the team into a family. Luckily for them, they have one example of how teammates can keep each other accountable with the Gillmore brothers.

Now fully healthy and prepared for the 2012 regular season, Austin and Crockett Gillmore are able to aid the Rams and their offense during what they hope to be their first full season playing together.

“I think it’s very important,” said coach Jim McElwain of the importance of having the Gillmore brothers healthy this year. “And like we’ve said, they come from a tradition-rich program in the state of Texas that understands football and having those guys here and being in the program, that’s very important.”

Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at sports@collegian.com.