Spokane Shock's Gilliam named 'Rookie of the Year'
Gilliam, a 6-2, 195-pound rookie from Clemson, had a tremendous first campaign for the Shock, positioning himself at the top of several key defensive categories and breaking the all-time af2 interception record.
Gilliam set the league record for interceptions in a season with 16 in 2008, three of which he returned for touchdowns. His interception total surpassed that of former Tennessee Valley Vipers standout Kelly Snell, who set the previous league-high standard for most interceptions in a season with 15 in 2003. Gilliam got off to a fast start in 2008 by recording three interceptions in each of his first two games (WK1 - May 30 at Green Bay, WK2 - April 5 vs. Stockton). He earned league recognition as the ADT Defensive Player of the Week after both outings for his stellar individual performances. Gilliam also led the af2 with 41 total passes defended (16 INTs, 25 pass breakups) this season. Gilliam, who ranked fourth on the team with 50.5 total tackles (45 solo, 11 asst), was recently named to the National Conference All-af2 First Team.
Gilliam has continued to play well in the 2008 af2 playoffs as the No. 1 seed Shock have knocked off the Austin Wranglers and Central Valley Coyotes in successive weeks. In his team's two wins thus far, Gilliam has racked up four interceptions, three tackles and one pass breakup. The Shock host Amarillo this Saturday night in the National Conference Championship where Spokane can earn a chance to play for its second ArenaCup title in the organization's first three years of af2 play.
Gilliam joins an esteemed list of previous winners that includes DB CHRIS ROYAL (2007 - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton), QB BRETT DIETZ (2006 - Louisville), WR DONOVAN MORGAN (Tulsa - 2005), WR J.R. THOMAS (W-B/Scranton - 2004), QB JOHNNY TURMAN (Green Bay - 2003), DB LINCOLN DUPREE (Peoria - 2002) and QB MATT SAUK (Tennessee Valley - 2001).
The 2008 af2 playoffs continue this weekend with the American and National Conference Championship games on Saturday, August 16. The American Conference Championship will feature the No. 4 seed Tennessee Valley Vipers playing host to the No. 7 seed Manchester Wolves at 8:30 p.m. ET. In the National Conference Championship, the West Division and No. 1 seed Spokane Shock host the No. 7 seed Amarillo Dusters at 10:00 p.m. ET. The winner of each Conference Championship will meet in the 2008 ArenaCup title game in two weeks.