In an interview with North Carolina State’s kicker, Trenton Gill, he talked about how he hoped to be one of the “lucky few” kickers to be drafted. With the No. 255 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears did exactly just that.
Gill is the NC State’s career leader in punt average with a 46.3 mark, making that the second-best mark among ACC players. In 2020, he tied for third in the ACC with a 44.9 YPP average, the fifth-best single-season mark in school history. He was named a 2020 second-team preseason All-American by Walter Camp, the Academic All-ACC team, the AFCA All-State Good Works Team and was on the preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award.
Though his college football resume is polished, he originally didn’t set out with hopes of being in the NFL. Growing up, Gill played soccer his whole life. He also enjoyed watching the NFL, where Tom Brady was a huge inspiration. Gill reflected on how he would have loved to be a quarterback, but did not have enough time for both soccer and being a quarterback. That didn’t stop Gill from loving football, however, as he started playing in high school.
Gill’s high school football team needed someone with a strong leg and who could kick field goals and punt. Given his soccer experience, Gill was up to the task.
“Growing up, I always loved watching football. I always liked watching Tom Brady play. Seeing what he was able to do with football, pushed me as well.” Gill said.
Gill took his football skills to North Carolina State, where he played for five years. He redshirted his first year, then played behind AJ Cole, current Raiders kicker, for two years. After that, he was NC State’s guy.
“I really appreciate my time at NC state for the past 5 years, I don’t think I would be where I am today without it,” Gill said.
Something Gill was able to focus on off the field is using football as a platform to give back to his community. In 2020, he went around to small businesses in his hometown in North Carolina and bought gift cards to give out to those in Orange County who needed a warm meal.
In 2021, Gill’s old elementary school needed a slide. He reflected on his childhood memories of playing at recess, especially going down the slide. Because he didn’t want those children to go without those memories, he was able to raise over $12,000 to buy a new slide and other recess equipment.
“I was able to do that because I went to NC State,” Gill said. “Because I had a platform because I have football, I was able to set that fundraiser up.”
Gill worked hard both physically and mentally leading up to the draft and loved the process along the way.
“You can always push yourself to the next level,” Gill said. “I didn’t know I could work that hard.”
Something that helped him a lot, especially in ways that could translate to being on the field, is yoga.
“I’ve gotten big into yoga. Not only do I have to be flexible for my position, but also the mental aspect of yoga.” Gill said. “A lot of it is holding positions you don’t want to be in.”
This toughness would help Gill on the field where anything else around him could be hectic, but if he remained focused on himself, he’d be good to go.
“I think yoga has really helped me out. I just gotta focus on myself and what I can control.” Gill said.
Using yoga was a great way to also sharpen his athleticism and his football mentality, something that stands him apart from other guys in the draft.
“What kind of separates me is my mentality,” Gill said. “I’m gonna outwork everyone and do what I have to do to be successful at this level.”
Being a punter, Gill looks up to his former teammate, AJ Cole. He looks to a handful of punters in the NFL for advice, noting that he appreciates that “their main goal is to help me get better.”
The COVID pandemic provided some challenges, however, but Gill remained positive of what he could do to not only benefit but help others benefit as well. He took advantage of doing the fundraisers as one of those ways to help give back in a time of need.
“It was hard in that I couldn’t do some things I wanted to do, [but] it was valuable to me because I was able to look forward and take a step back and make sure I was doing what I wanted to be doing,” Gill said.
The balance of keeping up the great work on the field while giving back off the field led Gill to this moment where he was drafted late by the Chicago Bears in the draft. He believes that this path to success is simple.
“If you want something, you should work for it. Don’t let other people say you can’t achieve it.” Gill said.