Buffalo Bills first-round draft choice Stephon Gilmore was introduced today in Orchard Park and projected an all-business attitude toward his new career as a professional football player.
"I like being physical," said Gilmore, the 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback from South Carolina. "I think that’s the strongest part of my game. I like the physical part, the hard-nosed part of playing football. I just love playing the game. I’ve been playing it since I was 7 years old and I enjoy playing it."
Gilmore said that attitude is pervasive in his hometown of Rock Hill, S.C.
"In South Carolina, you’re either a Clemson fan or a South Carolina fan," Gilmore said. "So we breathe football down there. Hard-nosed football. That’s all we know. So luckily I got drafted to a football town. I’m happy to be here."
Gilmore, the 10th overall pick on Thursday, worked hard in the classroom as well as on the field. He made the Southeastern Conference academic honor roll numerous times. He graduated high school a half a year early and was able to start classes at South Carolina in January of 2009. He carried a 3.22 grade-point average at South Carolina as a sport and entertainment management major, and he's just two semesters away from graduating, even though he has left college a year and a half early.
The Bills had Gilmore into town for a visit before the draft. He was one of their 30 allowed prospect visits in the month leading up to the selection process. He said he figured Buffalo was a possible destiantion.
"I wasn’t surprised," said Gilmore. "I knew they were in the hunt of picking me, and I’m happy they chose me and I’m happy to be part of this organization, and I’m just ready to play some football now."
The Bills have had two other draft picks from Rock Hill, S.C. Cornerback Jeff Burris, the No. 1 pick in 1994, was from the city. So was safety Ko Simpson, a fourth-round pick in 2006. Rock Hill also produced NFL great defensive back Donnie Shell, who starred for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s. Shell went to South Carolina State, and he's in the College Football Hall of Fame. Rock Hill is a city of 66,000, fourth largest in the state, and it's located near the northern border, close to North Carolina.