November 18, 2009 10:29:00 AM
Surframe Gilleylan had waited patiently for an opportunity.
The senior linebacker on the University of West Alabama footballl team got an opportunity Saturday and made the most of it.
Gilleylan had a season-high and team-leading seven tackles to help West Alabama beat Albany State 24-22 in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
Gilleylan, a 2005 graduate of Amory High School, got his opportunity when starting linebacker Tariq Ali (third leading tackler on the team) suffered an injury late in the second quarter against Albany State. He responded with five solo tackles and four assists.
He got his opportunity to show what he can do after playing mostly on special teams and sparingly on defense the first 11 games of the season.
"It was like a long time coming," Gilleylan said. "I was waiting and waiting -- waiting patiently. Coach called my number and I was ready. I was already pumped from playing on special teams. I just carried that energy onto the field. I just got out there and tried to help my team win."
The most tackles Gilleylan had in a game this season prior to Saturday was when he had two solos and three assists against Arkansass-Monticello on Oct. 17.
For the season, he''s registered 14 solo tackles and 15 assists.
Gilleylan, 5-foot-8, 217 pounds, got his most playing time against Albany State and he expects to get his first start of the season Saturday when West Alabama (8-4) plays at Carson Newman (9-2) in the second round of the playoffs.
"Because of injuries he got to play a lot more than he''s been playing and he did real well," said West Alabama coach Bobby Wallace. "Of course he was already doing a good job of substituting and in the kicking game and things like that. For him to come out and play like he did is one of the reasons why we got to move onto the next week."
West Alabama and Carson Newman are scheduled to kick off at noon in Jefferson City, Tenn.
West Alabama beat Super Regional Two No. 1-seed North Alabama to make the playoffs and now plays No. 2-seed Carson Newman.
Gilleylan feels fortunate to get an opportunity to contribute in the playoffs.
"The Good Lord let''s everything happen for a reason," Gilleylan said of getting his opportunity. "When you come to practice week in and week out you just have to prepare yourself because you never know what can happen. You just have to be ready when your time comes. When this accident (injury to Ali) happened in the game, I knew it was time to step up. I took this opporunity and took advantage of it."
He credited his teammates for allowing him to be able to make the plays against Albany State.
"The defensive line was able to hold up the line," Gilleylan said. "The defensive linemen played really well. That allowed me to run around and make tackles."
Gilleylan is in his first season at West Alabama after transferring from Delta State, where he played as a junior after playing two seasons at Itawamba Community College in Fulton.
The timing couldn''t be better for Gilleylan as West Alabama is bidding to win a national championship.
"It''s getting more serious," Gilleylan said of the atmosphere at West Alabama. "The hype is still there, but everybody is more focused on what we need to do."
Gilleylan said crossing the state line to go to school took ssome adjussting, but he enjoys it at West Alabama. He researches semi-trucks on line to help occupy his time when he''s not on the football field.
He is in Business Management at West Alabama and intends to own his own trucking company when he graduates.
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