Class of 2016 Charlotte Christian LB closes in on school tackle record

By EFN Staff
Published: 02/18/2015

Can game tape lie? Watching game film everything is right there in front of the viewer – the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. After watching top players year after year do their thing on the football field every now and again you come across the player that raises questions, one of those players raising a lot of questions is Charlotte Christian linebacker Ryan Gilmartin.

There’s no doubt that Gilmartin is talented and is a great linebacker – that part of the tape does not lie. The part of the tape up for debate when watching him – is he really 6’1”, 230 pounds, because he moves like a 5’11”, 190 pound, cornerback?

North Carolina media realized that the effort and hard work on and off the field added up to a First-Team All-Conference and First-Team All-State player for Gilmartin. What more would a guy need to do than help his team win their third straight state championship while racking up 103 tackles, 5 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, and notch 6 pass breakups.

The scary productive truth for the opposition is Gilmartin did all of that in what amounts to eight games. Due to an injury suffered by a teammate, the first three games of the season he moved to defensive end forcing the sideline to sideline defender to only take what was ran his way while playing stay at home assignment football. Another Charlotte Christian game was called in the second half due to inclement weather.

The three-year starter at linebacker already has two offers from Wake Forest and Hawaii but heavy interest is coming from teams like Arizona, Stanford, Boston College, North Carolina State, Penn State, Michigan State, Duke, and Georgia Tech making it inevitable that his offer sheet will push double-digits soon.

Gilmartin has already solidified himself in the hallowed football halls of Charlotte Christian’s as one of their all-time great players but another productive season at linebacker will take the biased debate off the table. He’s about to set the school’s career mark for tackles needing just 117 tackles to tie the school mark or 118 to be considered the school’s legitimate all-time top tackler in terms of productivity.

In an Elite Sports Network exclusive interview, Gilmartin sat down to talk about his soon to-be record setting high school career, winning state championships, and recruiting.

Ryan, Charlotte Christian went 10-1 capturing their third straight state championship. How did the defense come together for another title run?

“Our defense lost three guys up front on offense and defense (Jeb Blazevich to Georgia, Garrett Bradbury to N.C. State, and Jean-Luc Cerza-Lanaux to Charlotte). Our entire defensive line and two defensive backs were gone. We thought this might be a rebuilding year but we gelled together nicely. We had a lot of young guys.”

How did the defense come together so well?

“Our defensive coordinator, Mike Rose, has us ready for any offense we may face week after week. I think we only allowed two 100-yard rushers against us all season in 2014. We had a great front-seven and became a really strong stop the run team.”

How does the defense look heading into next season?

“We only lose two guys, which is great. Our secondary is still pretty young. We’re going to have to see how that works out. Do we move an outside linebacker to corner? As well as our defense has done we have believe in the system, each other, and the coaching staff.”

For those readers out there that have never seen you play will you breakdown your game for us at linebacker?

“I’m fast, play with a lot of physicality, have a passion for the game, and I finish plays. I never give up on any play. We’ve been taught well, all 11 guys going to the ball. I try to do that every time the ball is snapped. I pride myself on not giving up and going as fast as I can.”

As a three-year starter you have enough game experience to breakdown your own play. How well did you do in 2014?

“I had a good year. It was my first time ever playing any offense on the varsity level. It was fun to get to touch the rock.

“Defensively they had me at defensive end for a couple of games before moving me back to outside linebacker. It was tough for me at defensive end. I had to be patient. I wasn’t making as many plays as I wanted. My first three games I only had like 20 tackles. In Game 4 (Monroe) they moved me back to linebacker and I had 18 tackles in the game.

“Playing at defensive end was good for me though. I learned to play a different style of defense. When I was allowed to go back inside I was excited.”

What were your final stats for the 2014 season?

“I had something like 103 tackles, 5 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, and 6 pass breakups.”

What makes you such a productive linebacker?

“I’ve been taught to key off the guards. Ninety percent of the time the guard will take you to where the ball is going. It’s a lot easier than trying to keep your eyes in the backfield. The ball is going where the blocking is going. I get to my your zone, read the QB’s eyes, keep your hands on a guy in coverage.”

What are your goals for the 2015 football season?

“Same as everyone else, win a fourth straight state title and have an undefeated season. We have a really tough non-conference schedule. It’ll be brutal this season with our schedule – its back-to-back-to-back one tough game after another. An undefeated season would be a dream come true especially in your last year as a senior.”

What are your personal goals for the season? I understand you’re close to achieving a big milestone.

“Not that I’m eyeing it, but if I come up with 117 tackles next season I will be tied with the all-time leader in tackles at Charlotte Christian. That would give me 403 for my career. I'd like to have the record for the most tackles in a game, I think that is 23 in a game.

“The main thigh for me though is winning. Winning is a lot more important than getting an individual record.”

Who holds the record?

“The record holder is the defensive coordinator’s son, Lee Rose (Richmond 2008, Indiana 2009-2012).”

I bet there’s a lot teasing going on between you and Coach Rose about the possibility that you might break his son’s career tackle mark.

“Coach Rose is one of the best coaches in the country. He gets us ready to play every week. He’s a great leader and a great man, but yeah, there’s some teasing going back and forth.”

Where is Lee now?

“I think Lee is a defensive line coach at Butler.”

Do you think Coach Estep will play you on offense more next season?

“I played sparingly at H-back and tight end last year. I’d like to help out on offense next year if I can.”

Are you more of a blocking option or a short yardage move the ball kind of tight end/H-back?

“I’m more of a blocker.”

In your three years at Charlotte Christian you’ve lined up at Sam, Mike, Will, and played some Rover. When college coaches talk to you about playing at the next level which position are they recruiting you to play?

“Most schools talk about keeping me inside. There’s not a ton of 6’1”, 230 pound, outside linebackers.”

What schools have offered you?

Wake Forest and Hawaii.”

What schools are showing interest in you?

Arizona, Stanford, BC, N.C. State, Penn State, Michigan State, Duke, and Georgia Tech are all showing interest.”

When the coaches talk to you about your skill set what are they telling you they like about your game?

“First thing I always get, every coach asks me if I’m really 230 pounds. They tell me I look like I’m closer to 200 pounds. They want to see me in person. As for my game, they like my speed, my nose for the ball, and how I finish plays.”

Which schools have your primary interest as of right now?

Boston College, Arizona, and Michigan State.”

What will influence your decision when the time comes to pick a college?

“Education is number one. There are a lot more important things than football. A degree is a lot more valuable. I plan to major in business so I’d like to find a school with a strong business program. Location is not a big deal for me. My parents are okay with me going away, they’re going to come watch me wherever I may play.”

Are there any schools out there that you like but have not been in contact with you yet?

“Its hard to like a school that doesn’t recruit you, but a school that sends a ton of mail is Syracuse. I’m interested in Syracuse and I have a lot of family up there.”

What college camps did you go to last summer?

“I went to N.C. State, Penn State, and Michigan State. I visited Georgia Tech and Duke.”

Are you going to any camps this summer?

“I don’t think I’ll be camping any more.”

Why is that?

“Enough schools have shown interest in me, no need to go to more camps. I’ll workout for any coach that wants to come to our school. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask high school players to pay for a plane ride, hotel, and everything else to go on an unofficial visit or go to a camp if they’re interested in recruiting the player. It shows a level of interest for the schools when they come see me.”

Are any schools scheduled to come see you in the near future?

Boston College and Arizona are scheduled to come.”

Being a linebacker, and having mentioned Arizona a couple of times, have you watched Scooby Wright play?

“I like watching Scooby Wright play. A lot of people tell me that’s me out there. We’re both fast guys making big plays on the field. It’ll be interesting to see him play on the NFL level.”

What are you doing in the offseason to prepare for your individual workouts for college coaches and for your senior season?

“Everyday I’m working out with teammates like Alex Parker (tight end) at the U.S. Performance Center. I’m lifting four days a week, then I do speed and agility training on the off days. I’ve been swimming more to keep it easy on my knees.”

Do you play any other sports for Charlotte Christian?

“I play Lacrosse. My freshman year I started picking up Lacrosse offers but I want to play football in college for a number of reasons.”

What are those reasons?

“One there are more people in the stands at a football game than there are at a Lacrosse game and with college football you can get a full-ride.”

So football over Lacrosse?

“I’ve played football my whole life. I love football.”

Who has made the biggest impact on your football career?

“My father (Robert) has had the biggest impact. He played high school ball up in upstate New York, in the Albany area, and played for the Miami Hurricanes. He’s instilled a ton of toughness in me. He’d push me to weight train, do my speed training, and now I want to do it on my own. He taught me how to be a good young man.”

What is your favorite part of playing football?

“Football is unlike any other sport. With football you are a part of something bigger than yourself. When I was a freshman the seniors were great. Now it’s great to see all the new faces coming up through the program. The relationships I’ve made in football will last a lifetime. The guys will always be there for you.”

Since the Class of 2013, Charlotte Christian has churned out Division-I talent to Power 5 programs across the country. In 2013 cornerback Desmond Lawrence signed with North Carolina and defensive end Adrian Robinson signed with Colorado State. The Class of 2014, in addition to Blazevich (Georgia), Bradbury (N.C. State), and Cerza-Lanaux (Charlotte), wide receiver Bo Hines signed with North Carolina State.

The 2015 Class added four more signees at last count, center Brain Chaffin to Stanford, tackle Phillip Walton to North Carolina State, corner Jaylon McClinton to Army, and fellow linebacker Christian Young to South Carolina State.

The 2016 class is expected to produce five more high-end prospects, defensive tackle Christian Colon, tight end Alex Parker, fullback Connor Maitland, running back Elijah Deveaux (committed to Duke), and Gilmartin.

Playing against all of the talent over the past three years, soon to be four, and through the three state titles there has been Gilmartin. Gilmartin represents yet another model student athlete produced by the coaching staff and educators at Charlotte Christian. Wherever young Mr. Gilmartin may choose to play his college ball, the coaches know from the start that they are getting a player that will represent the team fittingly on and off the field… and he’s a proven winner.

Photo credit:; No. 20 Ryan Gilmartin