Alohi Gilman doesn’t believe there are 15 safeties than him better in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
Even if his dreams came true upon getting selected by the Los Angeles Chargers with the 186th overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the former Kahuku and Notre Dame star isn’t satisfied with being the 16th safety taken this year.
“It definitely fuels me. I know by heart every safety that was picked before me,” Gilman told KHON2. “I know that by heart right now so you ask me any one, I’d know what team and everything so it’s more fuel to the fire. I know what type of player I am. I know what I bring to the table. Now I’m just excited to get an opportunity and to go show the rest of the league and the rest of those other guys what they missed out on.”
Fuel aside, Gilman was grateful for the call from the Chargers, the franchise that will forever be the first NFL team that took a chance on him.
“I was honestly just in shock. Pretty surreal for me, a lot of emotion,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming and just to get that opportunity and be able to get drafted by an NFL team, it was always a dream of mine. Getting that opportunity was surreal in that moment for me.”
Gilman says the Chargers were a team he wasn’t expecting to hear from on Saturday given that the pre-draft contact was at a minimum.
“To be honest, I didn’t have a lot of contact with the Chargers,” he said. “That was not one of the teams I was expecting to get a call from. To hear the call from them was pretty crazy.”
There’s no timeline to get Gilman to Southern California just yet due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions nationally, but he knows how to adjust to uncertain plans.
When the day comes where he’ll be able to move into his new home, he’ll be doing so in the NFL city closest to Hawaii, a welcome locale given his previous football stops at Navy and Notre Dame.
“It’s a great feeling for me. I feel like this is a great opportunity for my family to come and just experience this opportunity,” he said. “I’ve been in the Midwest and the East Coast my college career. A long way. So being able to be in LA, a city I’ve been to in my college career, it feels like a second home and I’m excited for the future.”
Gilman will fight for a spot on a team that already includes a stacked secondary featuring All-Pros in Casey Hayward and Derwin James, as well as Pro Bowler Adrian Phillips. Gilman said he’s excited to learn from those players and hopes to be on the field with them soon.
There’s also some familiarity in the Chargers franchise, as Gilman will become the fourth Notre Dame player currently on the roster. Additionally, fellow Notre Dame alum and North Shore native Manti Te’o was selected by the Chargers in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Gilman will have to prove himself again to earn a spot on the team, but doing so isn’t new to him. Back when he transferred from Navy to Notre Dame, he almost immediately earned the respect of his teammates during practices in his redshirt year. He was a two-year starter for the Fighting Irish and one of the alphas on the team before declaring for the draft early.
Although a total of 22 safeties were taken in this year’s draft, there’s only one Alohi Gilman. Once football comes back and teams can return to the gridiron, he’s eager to show Chargers fans who he is.
“Just a guy who’s very passionate. A player than comes to work every day, loves playing football, loves what he does, is a hard worker and just has an extreme passion about playing,” he said. “Just a guy that will come in to work every day to compete, and do what’s best to contribute and make an impact, and a guy that’s gonna give it their all every day.”