Canadian Football League

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Former Canadian Football League player passes away

Rick Gilliam, a former offensive lineman at West Virginia University, died Wednesday at his home. He was 29.
Gilliam worked as a security officer for the Cumberland County government, which is based in Carlisle.
Gilliam won the state championship in wrestling in 1996 while a student at Big Spring High School in Newville.
He was "a giant teddy bear," his mother-in-law, Gretchen Naugle, said Friday. "He was pleasant to everybody - got along, very friendly. Just a gentle giant, a great son-in-law, and the love of my daughter's life."
Gilliam died suddenly and cardiac arrest was suspected, Naugle said. An autopsy on Friday may help determine the cause, she said.
Cumberland County deputy coroner Todd Eckenrode confirmed the death but said no other information was being released from his office.
West Virginia defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich recruited Gilliam, who lettered for the Mountaineers from 1997 to 2000.
"He was a tough, tough guy, but he was as nice a guy as comes down the pike," Kirelawich said.
Gilliam started 11 games at right guard in 1999 and 12 at center in 2000.
"I was there a long time and I had a million kids come and go, but Rick Gilliam stuck out," former WVU coach Don Nehlen told The Dominion Post in Morgantown, W.Va. "Maybe I had better players, I don't know, but as far as a guy everyone loved and respected, Rick Gilliam was up there with the best of them."
After college, Gilliam had brief stints with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League and the Indiana Firebirds of the Arena Football League, Naugle said.
Gilliam is survived by his wife, Kendra, their 9-month daughter, Mya, his parents and a sister.


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