From walk-on to seasoned vet

Amy Carton
Geneseo’s Kyle Glazier brings down the ball carriers during 2009 action for the Leathernecks. Glazier is preparing for his final season of football for Western Illinois University. He is the son of Jim and Michelle Glazier of Geneseo.

As a walk on at a Division I school, Geneseo’s Kyle Glazier didn’t know what the future would hold for him on the football field.

However, his work ethic and determination has helped him thrive and become one of Western Illinois University’s go-to players.

“I would say the experience has been more than what I anticipated,” said Glazier, who is preparing for his senior season with the team. “A lot of the younger players weren’t here when I started, and when they hear I was a walk-on, they can’t believe it.”

Glazier said the overall work and time commitment during the season and in the offseason takes a toll on players, but there are rewards and payoffs.

Glazier has been able to reap the rewards of his hard work, receiving many accolades over the years and working his way into a starting position and earning captain status.

He entered the college ranks in the fall of 2006, where he red-shirted his freshman year.

“As a freshman, it was very intimidating because at 18, I was playing with guys who were 23 or 24 years old and were grown men,” said Glazier. “College football is a lot more serious, and they take training and practices very seriously. You had to be real business like, but as the season goes on they lighten up and teach you.”

As a red-shirt freshman, Glazier appeared in every game, except the season opener, and registered 14 tackles and one tackle for a loss. He also earned the team’s Green Beret Award, the Gateway Football?Conference Commissioner’s Academic Excellence Award and was named to the league’s honor roll.

As a sophomore, Glazier stepped into a starting role where he was the team’s leading tackler, averaging 8.4 tackles per game. He was named Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley Football Conference, MVFC Academic All-Conference team and CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District team. He also earned the team’s Dr. Frank Sorenson Award for Academic Achievement, which is given to a Leatherneck with the highest grade point average.

“It was pretty scary at first at linebacker,” said Glazier. “But the seniors helped lead me, and it helped out a lot that I didn’t have to be a vocal leader right away. It was scary, but I had a nice transition and was able to ease into it.”

In Glazier’s junior season with the Leathernecks, his role turned into one that came naturally to Glazier, a leader.

“(My junior year) was a little bit different, but it is a role that came naturally to me because it was what I did in high school,” he said. “It felt more like high school being able to lead and have people come to me and ask questions.

“It also was a lot different on the field because I had to take more responsibility and had to know my assignment and everyone else’s. It was a lot more pressure, but I like that role. I like being a leader of a team.”

During his junior season, Glazier was Second Team All-MVFC, First Team Academic All-MVFC, named the team’s defensive Most Valuable Player and earned the 2009-10 Student-Athlete Provost Award. He was also one of the team’s five captains

Glazier started all 11 games his junior year. He led the team — and tied for ninth nationally — averaging 10.9 tackles per game. He recorded seven games of 11 plus tackles and finished the year with 120 tackles, 7.0 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions.

While at Geneseo,?Glazier was known for his success at the quarterback position, but had to make the transition to just defense for the Leathernecks.

“It was a hard transition, at first,” said Glazier. “I loved playing quarterback, but on the other hand, I loved playing defense. The hardest part was getting use to just playing on one side of the ball and putting all my focus on one side.”

In Glazier’s first year at WIU he played strong safety, but then found a home at linebacker, a position he hasn’t played since little league.

“I just tried to absorb everything I could from the coaches and older players,” said Glazier.

“The time commitment is huge, but at the same time I enjoy it. I like getting ready to go for games and even more now since it is my last go around.

“My friends and I tried to estimate the time we put into playing football and it is definitely more than a full-time job, but you can’t play college football, especially Division I without putting the time in. I enjoy it and it doesn’t seem like work.”

Glazier said finding the right balance for him with football and academics was tough at first, but he found what works for him and he has been able to also excel in the classroom.

“The big difference between high school and college is the work load, which took a bit of adjustment,” he said. “But the coaches do a good job making sure academics are a priority. They put pressure on us to get us to work harder in class. It is all about time management.”

Even though football is a fall sport, the team works year round to prepare for each season.

In the winter, the team works on lifting and mass building, but once summer hits, workouts become more intense as the season approaches.

“The summer regiment is very, very intense and is more intense than the season or winter workouts,” said Glazier. “Our strength coach does a good job of getting us ready. It is a lot of agility work.”

Glazier said, for a lot of people, adjusting to the weight lifting programs is difficult, but coming from Geneseo’s program he felt lucky and was prepared for the college workouts.

The toughest challenge Glazier had to overcome was earning the respect of his teammates.

“A lot of people assumed they wouldn’t hear much about me because I was a walk-on,” said Glazier. “I had to show I was willing to work hard and earn the respect of my teammates and coaches.”

The biggest highlight so far for Glazier has been being team captain.

“It has been my biggest achievement from being a walk-on and now having my teammates vote me to be team captain,” said Glazier. “I take pride in that.”

As his final year with the Leathernecks approaches, Glazier hopes he can help his team win as many games as they can and if that means he has to go out and make more tackles, he is prepared to do that.

“No matter what, I want to help my team on and off the field and win as many games as we possibly can,” said Glazier. “I am looking forward to just playing football.?I know it is the last year I am going to play college football.?I want to enjoy everything and have fun.

“I don’t regret where I am at. I love this school, I like the town, I love all the guys I met and I really like the coaches.”

Glazier has already been named a preseason Honorable Mention All-America selection by Consensus Draft Services and a preseason First-Team All-MVFC by Phil Steele College Football Preview.

As for his future plans, Glazier, a law enforcement and justice administration and business management double major with Spanish minor, may give the NFL a try, depending on how the season goes, but he still has to complete an internship before he graduates.

The Leathernecks open the 2010 season at 6 p.m. Sept. 2 against Valparaiso in Macomb.

Kyle Glazier wraps up the ball carrier.