KINGMAN - Northern Arizona University signed 27 high school recruits during Wednesday's National Letter of Intent Day for this year's football class, and one of them was Kingman High offensive lineman Rod Gilleo.
Gilleo had five other offers, including full-ride scholarships from FBS schools (Div. I) Wyoming and UTEP, and FCS schools (Div. I-AA) Weber State, Northern Colorado and South Dakota State.
Initially, Gilleo was offered only a partial scholarship by NAU, but that was before the Lumberjacks learned other schools were offering more. The 6-foot-6-inch, 245-pound tackle chose NAU when the full ride was put on the table.
"It's a good program with a winning tradition, and it's close to home," Gilleo said. "I know what they are about because (my brother) Trey went there."
Trey Gilleo graduated from NAU in 2013 as an offensive tackle and had a tryout with the NFL's New York Jets. Trey Gilleo was cut from the squad in the final days before NFL teams had to meet the maximum league requirement. Trey's having played at NAU did factor in Gilleo's decision.
"You never know if what you are hearing is the truth," Gilleo said. "Trey having gone there, I knew what they said was true."
NAU wasn't shy about using Gilleo's older brother's experience to help them land the Bulldog.
"Trey had a great experience when he was here," said Rich Scangarello, NAU's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. "That allowed Rod to see how things ran here. I think he's a little further along than Trey and he should be able to compete earlier. He had a lot of options and that played a part in his decision."
David Ward, Kingman High's football coach, had Gilleo for one year and the senior made a big impact on the coach. Ward said if he were still recruiting in college, Gilleo would be on his list.
"His integrity is second to none," Ward said. "You push his buttons and he will respond positively. They are getting one of the best kids out there. When you can get a quality kid like Rod, you just can't beat that."
It wasn't just his character that had NAU and the five other schools going after Gilleo. Scangarello likes all the tangibles that Gilleo brings to the table.
"Rod is a quality individual and a quality football player with tremendous skills on the field," he said. "We've known his family for some time. He brings character, talent and a work ethic. We could not be more proud to have him."
Gilleo said that with senior tackles on the NAU roster for next season, he expects to redshirt in the fall. That said, don't be surprised if Gilleo ends up on the field next season.
"Ideally, we love to redshirt freshmen," Scangarello said. "He has the ability to compete early. We have great tackles, but we don't have a lot of depth.
"Sometimes you have to consider freshmen being contributors their first year, and Rod is one of them."
Gilleo said his academic plan is to major in criminal justice, move on to law school and become an attorney. For now, he's enthusiastic about his next step in life.
"I'm looking forward to when I actually get to play and take the field in the dome," he said. "I've got to work hard."