Growing up in Texas, Crockett Gillmore was a highly-decorated athlete as an all-state defensive end and wide receiver who was also the district high jump champion.
Where Gillmore didn’t have a background was at tight end.
The Ravens’ third-round draft pick only moved to tight end in the spring before his sophomore year at Colorado State four years ago after playing defensive end as a freshman due to injuries along the defensive line.
Gillmore’s education about the position remains an ongoing process as the Ravens began their rookie minicamp Friday.
"Throughout the whole process, I think it was something I learned,” Gillmore said. “I was studying the tight ends as a defensive player. Now that I’m a tight end, I’m studying the defensive players. It goes hand in hand.
"It helps itself out. I’m still pretty new to the position. We’re learning some different things, but I definitely feel like I’m helping myself by having played both.”
Gillmore proved to be a natural at tight end, emerging as a first-team All-Mountain West Conference selection in his first year at his new position by catching 45 passes for 468 yards and four touchdowns. As a senior last season, he had 47 receptions for 577 yards and two touchdowns.
Now up to 6-foot-6, 260 pounds after gaining a lot of weight since enrolling in college, Gillmore always thought he might eventually wind up at tight end.
“Going into college, I picked a school that utilized tight ends,” said Gillmore, who finished his career with 111 catches for 1,308 yards and eight touchdowns. “I knew that I had a defensive mind, but I was going to a school that’s where I could potentially be.”
Gillmore has some familiarity with offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s tight end-friendly system having watched his teams when he was the Houston Texans’ head coach. Plus, Klint and Klay Kubiak, Kubiak’s sons, both played at Colorado State.
“I’ve always studied defenses, and he’s an offensive guy that caused a lot of problems for those defenses,” Gillmore said. “Obviously, I've been around his sons. I knew he utilizes tight ends a lot. Getting here and being around him, it’s been an awesome experience.”
“For me, a tight end is a guy that can play any position on the field,” Gillmore said. “He just happens to be a bigger body. I think of myself as a block with ability to catch the ball. I think championships are still won running the ball and playing defense.
"So, I’d much rather be considered a blocker that can catch than a receiver that can block. I have that defensive mindset, so I want to go in there and block somebody.”
For Gillmore and all of the Ravens’ rookies, this week has been an indoctrination into the NFL with long days that are mentally demanding with a lot of information to absorb.
“You’re not a freshman anymore,” Gillmore said. “You’re not 18 years old. You better man up and come to work. It’s that mentality that you need to know, who to respect and who to watch. At the same time, it’s a business.”