Wide Receiver | Letters 2005, 2007-09
Mardy Gilyard is my favorite Bearcat of all time. Above Kenyon. Above Oscar. Above Steve Logan. Above them all. I know that among Bearcat fans that is basically equivalent of telling a music fan that you think the Beatles are the best. That doesn't make it any less true or meaningful.
Gilyard was a one of a kind play maker who always played his best on the biggest stages. A then school record 365 all purpose yards against Oklahoma, 255 yards against Virginia Tech, 303 during the 2009 barn burned with UConn, and his legendary 381 yard day against Pitt.
It would be one thing if Mardy was just a great player. But the way he lived his life off the field made the city embrace him. As much as Brian Kelly was the architect of those great 2008 and 2009 teams, Mardy was the face of those groups. From his spur of the moment decision to embrace the kid he hit in the South Florida game. To his impromptu speech to the crowd when the buses rolled back into Cincinnati after that Pittsburgh game. Not to mention the way that he handled Brian Kelly's departure.
While it feels a bit shameful for me to rely on the words of someone else to close out this piece on Mardy, but who better than College Football's resident William Blake, Spencer Hall of EDSBS. After the Sugar Bowl Hall had this to say.
--Mardy Gilyard, you are built of adamantium and sheer balls. Florida spent the better part of the game ignoring whatever Tony Pike was doing and instead running helmet-first at Gilyard's tender parts, and he was still running full speed in the fourth quarter. Lionhearted is a cliche we'll happily use, but only because we assume a young Gilyard ripped one from a live lion at the zoo, jammed it in his own chest, and uses it for backup when he hits the afterburners on pass routes. He died well out there.