Could Gillespie be the perfect third safety for the Colts?
A fan-favorite series is coming back to the site as it is officially prospect interview season. For anybody new to the site or for people who need a reminder, every draft season I sit down with prospects that are going to be in the upcoming NFL Draft to talk with them about their off-field accomplishments and some film aspects on the field. While I don’t always talk to star players, I have been able to talk to a few players who eventually ended up with the Colts such as Khari Willis, Marvell Tell III, and Rock Ya-Sin.
Our next prospect interview is with Missouri safety Tyree Gillespie. We had a great conversation about his athleticism, his big game against Alabama, and his impact as a deep safety.
Weight: 207 pounds
Arm Length: 31.3”
Gillespie is a former three-star recruit out of Vanguard high school in Ocala, Florida. He quickly found a role in the Missouri defense as a true freshman as he appeared in seven games during the year. Each year he would go on to have a bigger and bigger impact on the Missouri defense, one that outperformed expectations the last three seasons. He finished his career with 146 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 12 pass deflections, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.
For his impressive career at Missouri, Gillespie was selected to play in the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl.
ZH: You were selected for the Senior Bowl this year. How was that entire experience for you, being able to go down there and show out for scouts?
TG: It has honestly been a dream come true. It has always been my dream to get to the biggest stage possible and to show people that there is a will and there is a way for somebody like me.
Playing alongside Joshuah Bledsoe
ZH: So you were able to play alongside another very talented safety in Joshuah Bledsoe these past few seasons. What was it like playing with him over the years?
TG: Man, it was a blessing. When you need somebody covered and taken out of the game, that’s the guy to go to. You want somebody to lock down the slot, he has the good hips and he’s fluid to take them out. You never know what you are going to get out of (Joshuah) Bledsoe. He shows those skills every time he is in practice, he goes hard all the time. He’s just a great competitor that always tries to get better.
ZH: When I talked to him last week, he compared you two to Batman and Robin.. So, in your opinion, which one of you is Batman?
TG: I’m gonna say I’m Batman! I am Batman and he can be Robin (laughs).
Missouri Safety Joshuah Bledsoe is interesting. Good size (6’0″ 200 pounds) and physicality. Missouri used him all over the place in the “star” position. Colts are certainly looking to add a guy with his skillset in this draft. pic.twitter.com/HCAwWyJ46t
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 11, 2021
ZH: I loved watching your film and seeing the level of physicality you play with at safety. Is that a big part of your game?
TG: I feel like the physicality part of this sport is my favorite part. Just because the fact that not many people like to get hit and not many people can take a hit. Just showing that you are physical all the time and it creates fear on the field.
ZH: Do you feel like that is a bit of a lost art of playing safety nowadays? Do you want to be that breed of safety that makes receivers always know where you are on the field?
TG: Most definitely. I feel like every time that ball comes to the middle of the field, I’m trying to take a man’s head off.
Tyree Gillespie is going to be a star in the NFL with the right coaching. pic.twitter.com/A3zNUkIquX
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 15, 2021
Playing against Alabama
ZH: The most impressive game of yours that I watched was against Alabama. You really stepped up against a top-tier team. What was it like for you to compete against those guys and have the game that you did?
TG: It was like a dream come true. Just showing your skillset against some of the best guys that people put out there. Alabama is supposed to produce some of the best D-I players and some of the best first-round picks so just showing my skill set with those guys was great. It showed that I can play with anybody.
ZH: I feel like your athleticism is a bit underrated in this draft cycle and that game was a great example of how great your speed is. Do you think people are underrating how great of an athlete you are?
TG: Oh, absolutely. I would say coming from high school to now, a lot of people have slept on me. I just gotta show my ability everywhere I go. I have been proving myself my whole life so it is nothing new to me.
#Missouri FS Tyree Gillespie #9 is not a senior prospect I see talked about much – but he should be.
Athletic, aware, tough. Not many college safeties show this type of range and finishing skills vs. a talent like Waddle. pic.twitter.com/ncgUr36Qcv
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) October 30, 2020
ZH: I know Bledsoe played a lot of the man coverage at Missouri, but how comfortable do you feel in that kind of role?
TG: I feel like you can just put me on the field and let me make plays. I can play single high or man up on tight ends or receivers. I feel like any kind of role a defense needs me in, I can do that at a high level.
Tyree Gillespie is a fun one. He gets helped out a bit by Trask’s noodle arm but this is great off man coverage against Kyle Pitts. Gillespie is super springing in his breaks and explosive out of his backpedal/stance pic.twitter.com/ygm66F0L6k
— Zach Hicks (@ZachHicks2) February 15, 2021
NFL Draft Outlook
ZH: What is my NFL team getting when they draft Tyree Gillespie in this class?
TG: You are gonna get a leader. Also, a man who loves, sleeps, and eats ball. A man who will do anything in his will to win.
Tyree Gillespie got there IN A HURRY for the Mizzou sack. pic.twitter.com/IhuBN94SyD
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 17, 2018
Gillespie is a really fun player on film who also has this confidence about him that is easy to hear in how he talks. He may not have given the most in-depth answers in this interview, but he is a confident player who knows what his game is about.
I think this is the type of player the Colts are in the market for in this upcoming draft. The Colts are looking at either getting a third safety who can play more in the box or a rangy deep safety who can pave the way for Khari Willis to play in the box. I think Gillespie fits that second point very well and is a great fit for this Colts’ defense.