Nose tackle is the most thankless and least noticed positions on an NFL defense. The position is not one to put up flashy stats or get the attention unless something bad happens during a game. So it is not too surprising that many Pittsburgh Steelers fans know next to nothing about Greg Gilmore even though he spent four months with the team last offseason.
The nose tackle position eats up space on the line and tries to prevent their offensive counterparts from getting to the next level and wipe out the linebackers. The former LSU Tiger was tasked with that responsibility while taking on two or three linemen on any play. How did he accomplish that in college while only weighing 308 pounds? Film study and technique.
That dedication did not bear fruit the first two years at LSU for the former five-star recruit (Scout.com) as Gilmore rode the pine for much of his first two seasons.
Gilmore redshirted his inaugural season with LSU and only saw limited action his redshirt freshman season. He appeared in six games making four tackles and a half a sack.
The 2015 season was more of the same. Limited playing time at defensive tackle in the Tigers 4-3 system. Against Western Kentucky, he got his first career start and tallied two total tackles. For the season Gilmore finished with 13 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and one sack. The phrase “bust” was being bandied about Tiger nation.
“I came from the bottom — a five-star bust,” he said. “I was always in the media reading. I didn’t know how to practice, couldn’t do anything right. Had little self-confidence in myself.”
That talk all ended in his junior season in 2016 when LSU switched to a 3-4 defense and Gilmore moved to nose tackle. Gilmore helped lead the Tigers to an 8-4 record while finishing 13 nationally in the AP poll. The defense got it done while finishing 10th in total defense, 13th in scoring defense, and 5th in rush defense. At the core of the line was Gilmore who finished the season with 34 total tackles, one for loss and a sack.
Gilmore entered his senior season entrenched as the team’s starting nose tackle even though he was undersized at 6-4, 308 pounds while his backups were 355 and 340 pounds. Over the course of 13 starts, Gilmore accumulated 53 tackles with a team-best 7.5 sacks and finished second on the team with 10 tackles for loss.
Highlights for his senior year via his bio on the official LSU website.
Had sacks in three straight games against Troy, Florida, and Auburn … Closed out season with sacks in consecutive games against Texas A&M and Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl … Set career-high with nine tackles vs. Troy … Had seven tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack in comeback win over Auburn … Had seven tackles against Mississippi State … Recorded five tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack in final game in Tiger Stadium vs. Texas A&M … Finished No. 7 in the SEC in sacks and No. 20 in tackles for loss.
The Tigers regressed from the previous season and finished 15th in total defense, 16th in scoring and 30th in rushing and 9-4 while finishing 18 in the AP poll. Not shabby numbers while playing in the nations best conference.
Even though he played on a prolific defense at LSU, Gilmore was snubbed an invitation to the NFL Combine and had to prove himself at his pro day. His pro day was underwhelming with only 21 reps on the bench and a 7.65 3-cone drill. The results and film is the reason Gilmore went undrafted in 2018.
The Steelers picked up Gilmore in early May to compete for the backup nose tackle position, but he could not secure a spot on the roster or practice squad and was released.
Determined to keep his pro football dream alive he joined the Memphis Express of the AAF. In the five games he was involved in, he started four and had two sacks and 11 tackles.
Fan favorite punching bag Daniel McCullers has held the backup nose tackle position for five years. Another player who stands in Gilmore’s path is 2018 practice squad nose tackle, Lavon Hooks. Will the Steelers keep a nose tackle on their practice squad as insurance again in 2019 and look to groom a replacement in case starting nose tackle Javon Hargrave departs for more money and playing time in 2020?
Gilmore needs to have a quality training camp and preseason if he hopes to turn the Steelers coaches heads. Something he did not do in 2018. Having to beat out the two players he could not beat out last season will be an uphill battle. Will he shine or be another camp body for the Steelers?