• John Macon Gillespie

Gilleylen To Continue Shannon Legacy At The Fortius Project

For a second straight season Darryl Carter guided the Shannon Red Raiders to a 6-5 finish in 2016. That record, though, does not reflect the actual improvement the program made on the field during the season.

Considering the youth of the Red Raiders, and the competition they faced, a 6-5 record actually showed glimpses of a bright future for the program.

It all starts with rising junior quarterback Jordan Gilleylen. He is the guy who must step up to replace the lost production of Kegan Huddleston and others on the offensive side of the ball.

Gilleylen threw for 236 yards or more in three games last fall. The Red Raiders were 3-1 when he threw for at least 150 yards. In three separate games he threw for three scores, with his best performance coming against Nettleton. That 35-0 win over the Tigers was the only game in which he tossed three scores and kept it clean with interceptions.

While Gilleylen totaled 1,490 yards and 12 scores through the air in 2016, he knows he has to clean it up and be more consistent going forward.

“I think I did well last season. I just threw too many interceptions,” Gilleylen told SES Mississippi. “I was trying to do too much on my own and not making the right reads.”

This weekend Gilleylen, along with some of his teammates, will attend the Fortius Project combine at Northeast Mississippi community college. It is an opportunity he is excited for, and it just part of the grind of the offseason.

“I’m glad to be attending the camp. It is a great opportunity for me to get better,” He explained. “I will work hard at everything. I will compete hard.”

“With my teammates there, it will be fun, but it’s all competition.”

Gilleylen noted arm strength, arm accuracy and footwork as areas that will stand out when he competes at the camp on Sunday.

Those are critical areas to a quarterback’s success. However, this offseason, he’s working to add an element to his game as well as sharpen an area the he says got him in trouble a season ago.

“I’m trying to get my speed up and read the defense better this offseason,” He said.

This offseason, however, isn’t just about Gilleylen’s own improvement. The whole team must take a step forward. Obviously that provides challenges.

The defense will be without Vincent McIntosh, who was a terror on the defensive line, and Bobby Vines, who was a ball hawk in the second level.

Gilleylen says some of that responsibility falls on the offense.

“We have to put up points to help the defense. We have to try to score every time, if need be,” He said.

“Overall, we just have to work together and be a family.”

Five years in, that is program that Carter has worked hard to build. The program’s history and tradition demands that it’s coaches and players strive to be the best.

“You’ve got to love it,” Gilleylen said. “I bleed red. I love my squad.”

Every family must have leadership, however. That is what the young, but experienced signal caller is trying to be this season. Not just to win games and be the best teammate he can be, but to be the best quarterback he can be. Leadership, he says, is the most important attribute a quarterback can possess.

“I put the team on my back. They depend on me and I don’t let them down. They can trust me,” Gilleylen explained. “That makes me feel like I’m doing something right. It makes me feel good about myself.”

The pursuit to be the best quarterback he can is certainly his driving force. Football is his happy place. Even with so many goals left to achieve in the game he loves, he also has goals for life.

“Football just eases my mind from everything. It makes me smile,” He noted. “In football, I want to be the greatest I can be. I really would like to have a career in the NFL. In life, I wan to become a better man and keep God first in everything.”

#Shannon #JohnLukeMcCord

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