Newly signed Oakland Raider Gary Wilkins is attempting to make the team as NFL rookie mini-camps begin around the nation. Wilkins, went from Furman to the Raiders after being signed as an undrafted free agent, but his story started in Covington when Wilkins played for Alcovy under head football coach Kirk Hoffman. The Covington News spoke with Hoffman and asked about Wilkins as a player and a person in this exclusive Q&A.
The Covington News: I know Gary played for you, coach. So talk a little bit about what it’s like for you to see him get signed as an undrafted free agent.
Kirk Hoffman: I couldn’t be any happier for anybody. Anybody you talk to will tell you Gary has all the characteristics of what it takes to get to that level. He understands hard work. He’s humble and he keeps everything in perspective.
CN: Coach what was Gary like playing under you?
Hoffman: Again, one of the most coachable young men I’ve ever worked with. He came in and he was always where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be there. He always had a great attitude. It’s easy to have a good attitude when things are going good. He was a pleasure to coach just because of his work ethic.
CN: Do you think it’s his work ethic that sets him a part from a lot of other players?
Hoffman: Oh, yeah.One is it’s his work ethic. Two is his integrity and his character. I don’t know if I’ve been around a young man who has such a drive to be successful.
CN: Talk a little bit about how he played in college, how he got better from when you saw him his last year in high school to when he was in college?
Hoffman: The big thing that he did is when he got to college he took what he had taken in high school and increased it and took it to another level. Not just on his playing ability, but the little things like the weight room, the classroom and becoming a leader. He was on the leadership council there and he was team captain. So when he got to college he took what he had accomplished in high school and instead of just stepped on it he continued to work and get better and better at it.
CN: Talk a little bit about what kind of message it sends to your current players and your future players that you have somebody who’s from a small town like Covington to go play in the NFL.
Hoffman: What I hope that this says, not just to people in Covington, but to anybody that follows high school football or anything of that nature is it’s OK to have a dream. But you have to have the understanding that I need to work toward that dream. He came to school every day and worked toward the dream of playing college ball. He was an outstanding student and then when he got to college he had that dream of having a shot just to play in the NFL. He worked hard and to get to that level and now he;s got that shot.