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A CLOSER LOOK: SAM GASH

Monday - 8/20/2001

Sam Gash vs. Steelers


A CLOSER LOOK: Sam Gash

Sam Gash’s down-to-earth, unassuming game reflects his off-the-field demeanor––subtle, yet disarming.

Away from the game, Gash can suddenly disarm with a polite word or an easy smile.

On the field, he disarms with a crushing block.

Nicknamed “Smash” at Penn State for his blocking abilities, the 10-year NFL veteran helped pave the way for a team record 2,199 yards rushing in 2000. Gash is poised to do the same for the upcoming season despite the key loss of running back Jamal Lewis to injury. And although some believe the Ravens must find a way to compensate for the noticeable hole at running back, Gash scoffs at the idea of having to increase his level of intensity on the field.

“What notch are you playing at if you have to step it up another notch?” Gash said. “That’s the way I look at it.”

Originally drafted in the eighth round by the New England Patriots in 1992, Gash has made significant strides in his career. Not only has he moved up the depth chart to become a starter, but he has also earned two Pro Bowl berths along the way. Through it all, Gash never doubted himself or his playing abilities.

“I never felt like I shouldn’t be here,” he said.

He knows, however, what it’s like to fight to make the squad. He knows that success follows hard work and willingness to do what other players won’t do. Gash uses his experience to give advice or encouragement to rookies and younger players, some of whom are long shots to make the team.

“I try to tell them all the time, ‘Man, make your own path.’ You have to believe in yourself before anyone else will believe in you,” he said.

Much of the player and person Gash is stems from his upbringing in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Located in the Appalachians about 100 miles northwest of Charlotte, the small town helped keep young Gash’s attention on sports.

Even early on, from the times he played football with the other kids in the sandlot to the times he watched and mimicked NFL moves he saw on TV, Gash received encouragement to develop his talents from his mother and from other members of the community.

“The people I grew up with were the ones that helped shape and mold who I am,” he said. “My mom never let us quit on anything.”

Competition is a big part of Gash’s life. In school, he competed with his friends for the best grades. In football practice, he and training-camp roommate, fullback Obafemi Ayanbandejo, feed off the other’s strengths. By casting what Gash calls a “watchful eye” on the other, both Ayanbendejo and Gash have learned to give and receive feedback to improve their all-around games.

Gash’s mom taught him to respect others as well. Off the field, respect is something he offers readily, but on the field Gash thinks respect must be earned. He hopes he has earned the respect of teammates and peers with his play, but acknowledges that even hard efforts often come to naught.

“When I have a job to do, I’m going to go out and try to do it the best I can and as hard as I can, and whatever comes out of that is fine,” Gash said. Gash’s “fine” is good, Pro Bowl good.
PLAYER CONNECTIONS

RB Terry Allen, CB James Trapp and DT Brenston Buckner were teammates at Clemson…LB Peter Boulware and QB Chris Weinke are former Florida State Seminoles…K Matt Stover and CB Doug Evans are Louisiana Tech alumni…LB Cornell Brown, LB Michael Hawkes and OL T.J. Washington attended Virginia Tech…DB Pete Destefano and OT Todd Steussie are former California Golden Bears…QB Elvis Grbac and RB Tshimanga Biakabutuka went to Michigan…QB Tim Hasselbeck and DT Tim Morabito are Boston College alumni…TE Todd Heap, LB Jason Kyle and S Damien Richardson are former Arizona State Sun Devils…RB Derek Homer and LB Dean Wells attended Kentucky…WR Qadry Ismail, DE Rob Burnett, WR Jim Turner, RB Dee Brown, OT Melvin Tuten and WR Darryl Daniel are former Syracuse Orangemen…OG Jim Jones, LB Kory Minor and CB Deveron Harper were teammates at Notre Dame…TE John Jones and OG Leander Jordan played together at Indiana (Pennsylvania)…TE Billy Kendall and CB Reggie Howard were teammates at Memphis State…K Brian Kopka, DT Kris Jenkins, DT Larry Webster and WR/RS Jermaine Lewis are former Maryland Terrapins…RB Jamal Lewis, S Deon Grant and S Cory Gaines were teammates at Tennessee…LB Ray Lewis, LB Dan Morgan, CB Duane Starks, OL Kipp Vickers, DT Adrian Wilson and OT Leon Searcy are Miami (FL) alumni…DE Michael McCrary and DE Jay Williams played together at Wake Forest…C Casey Rabach and WR Donald Hayes attended Wisconsin…LB Jamie Sharper, WR Kevin Coffey, WR Patrick Jeffers, TE Casey Crawford and LB Chris Slade are former Virginia Cavaliers…DT Tony Siragusa and DT Sean Gilbert were teammates at Pittsburgh…QB Matt Lytle and RB Nick Goings also attended Pittsburgh…WR Travis Taylor, C Jeff Mitchell, S Tony George and DT Derrick Chambers are Florida alumni…S Rod Woodson, OT Jon Blackman and LB John Reeves are former Purdue Boilermakers.

PROFESSIONAL CONNECTIONS
Head coaches Brian Billick and George Seifert had coaching stints at Stanford…Assistant strength coach Chip Morton was head strength coach for Carolina from 1995-98…Assistant head coach/Secondary Steve Shafer was a member of Carolina’s staff in 1998…Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh coached with John Marshall in San Francisco in 1996…LB coaches Jack Del Rio and Sam Mills played together from 1985-86 for the New Orleans Saints…Chick Harris coached Del Rio at USC during his freshman and sophomore seasons…S Corey Harris played with CB Doug Evans from 1993-94 with the Green Bay Packers…WR Qadry Ismail was a teammate of Evans in 1997 with Green Bay…S Rod Woodson played with DT Brenston Bucker for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1994-96…S Tony George, RB Terry Allen and LB Chris Slade were teammates with the New England Patriots in 1999…LB Jason Kyle and OG Orlando Bobo were teammates with the Cleveland Browns in 1999…Carlos Mainford was LB coach for the Chicago Bears in 1998, while Matt Cavanaugh was the offensive coordinator and Todd Sauerbrun was the punter…QB Elvis Grbac and Sauerbrun were teammates with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2000…George Seifert coached QB Elvis Grbac (1993-96) in San Francisco…C Jeff Mitchell was with the Baltimore Ravens from 1997-00…DL coach Jacob Burney was with the Cleveland/Baltimore franchise from 1994-98…Special teams coach Scott O’Brien and strength and conditioning coach Jerry Simmons were with the Cleveland/Baltimore franchise from 1991-98…Alvin Reynolds was the Baltimore Ravens DB coach from 1996-98…Special teams assistant/assistant strength and conditioning coach Darrin Simmons was with the Baltimore Ravens from 1997-98…FB Chris Hetherington, DT Tony Siragusa and OL Kipp Vickers were teammates with the Indianapolis Colts in 1996…TE Shannon Sharpe played with WR Patrick Jeffers, OT Harry Swayne, QB Jeff Lewis and OT Melvin Tuten with the Denver Broncos (1990-99)…G Kevin Donnalley played with CB Corey Harris and WR Isaac Byrd with the Houston/Tennessee franchise from 1991-97…RB Terry Allen played with DT Sean Gilbert and WR Karl Hankton with the Washington Redskins from 1995-98…DT Sam Adams played with K John Kasay, DE Michael McCrary, CB Corey Harris, LB Jason Kyle and LB Dean Wells with the Seattle Seahawks from 1994-99



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