Mardy Gilyard may have been the fastest man to ever play for the Cincinnati Bearcats. At just under six feet and 187 pounds, the former Bearcat receiver/kick returner burned opposing teams on the regular, accounting for five return touchdowns and 31 total scores during his time with UC. In 2009, he amassed 1,281 yards on kick returns alone as part of the centerpiece of the 12-1 team that won a Big East championship and took a 12-0 record into the Sugar Bowl against Florida.
Despite only being a two-star recruit out of high school, Gilyard's production earned him a host of honors, as he was twice named to the All-Big East first team and twice named an All-American. He also scooped up the Big East's Special Teams Player of the Year award n 2008 and 2009. Simply put, Gilyard was Cincinnati's version of Devin Hester.
After college, Gilyard entered the NFL Draft, running a 4.52 second 40-yard dash in the combine and earning offensive player of the game honors in the 2010 Senior Bowl. Unfortunately, he would never become the Devin Hester for any team at the NFL level.
Drafted No. 99 overall by the St. Louis Rams, he managed to play in 11 games as a rookie and tallied 63 yards on six receptions. The Rams knew to give him a shot running balls back as well, as he returned 16 kicks for 356 yards. That effort in 2010 wasn't enough to keep him around for 2011, as Gilyard was cut during the preseason the following summer.
He then had a short-lived stint with the New York Jets. Well, short-lived is underselling it, as he was claimed off of waivers on Sept. 4, 2011 and waived five days later. Gilyard then worked out with the Philadelphia Eagles, thus beginning one of the most off-and-on relationships this side of Ross and Rachel. (Outdated pop culture reference for 600 Alex. (Outdated pop culture reference on top of an outdated pop culture reference for the win)).
Anyway, although the Eagles did not sign Gilyard that autumn, they did sign him in January of 2012. However, once the summer months came to a close, he was once again out of a job, as the Eagles released him on Aug. 31. Not even two weeks later, Philadelphia resigned him and in six games, he returned two punts for 15 yards. In late November, the Eagles finally made a clean break, releasing Gilyard for good.
Another brief encounter with the Jets (this time for almost a month) and a few offseason months signed with the Kansas City Chiefs amounted to the final chapters of Gilyard's NLF journey.
He ventured north from there, signing with the Montreal Alouettes in October of 2013. He caught only two passes for 16 yards in his lone season of work for Montreal. He would also try his hand in the Arena Football League, playing for the Jacksonville Sharks in 2014. He caught 29 passes for 309 yards and eight touchdowns. Don't worry, He also returned 16 kicks for 296 yards.
However, over the next two years, Gilyard did not find his way onto a football field. That was until June 1 of this year, when the Sharks announced that he had joined the team once again. Gilyard is currently listed as an inactive reserve for the Sharks, who have played two games since his signing and are currently 5-5. Perhaps in the weeks to come Gilyard will be out on the gridiron returning kickoffs once again.