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NIGEL KILBY TIGHT END | THE PATH FROM JUCO TO D1 TO TOP DRAFT PROSPECT

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Photo by Southern Illinois University Athletics

Nigel Kilby is a Tight End that is going to start his redshirt senior year for the Southern Illinois Salukis. Kilby has been named one of the top 2020 NFL Draft Prospects from the FCS according to herosports.com. He was ranked No.3 JUCO tight end and No. 37 JUCO prospect in the country according to 247sports.com Kilby has had quite an exciting route to get to where he is at. He redshirted his first season at D1 Eastern Michigan University. In his redshirt freshman season at EMU, Kilby caught 34 passes for 437 yards and had four touchdowns. One of the highlights of the season is that he had a career-high of 6 catches against No. 20-ranked FBS Western Michigan. He played his redshirt sophomore season at Garden City Community College where he played in all 12 games and caught 43 passes for 458 yards and had ten touchdowns. Nigel Kilby transferred to D1 Southern Illinois to play in his redshirt junior year. He caught 16 passes for 230 yards and had six touchdowns. Kilby was named honorable mention All-MVFC after his redshirt junior season. Kilby is now getting ready to play his last college season for the Salukis. But Kilby’s football career is just getting started. Nigel talks JUCO and how athletes could benefit and what the transition from JUCO to a DI school was like. 

LRT Sports: How do you think a high school athlete can benefit from going to a junior college?

Nigel: A lot of high school students can benefit if they didn’t get into the school they wanted. It’s a good option if you need development in your sport or the classroom.


LRT Sports: What was the hardest part about your transition from a JUCO to a DI school?

Nigel: Honestly the only hard transition from Juco to D1 was dealing with the transfer to the institution. My D1 school made everything pretty easy for me to come in and be comfortable.

LRT Sports: What was the process as far as the recruiting process is concerned? Did you have to reach out to coaches? How did you get on their radar?

Nigel: I followed every coach I could on social media and if they followed me back, I would send them my film. I was also high on the radar since I had success at a DI before JUCO.

LRT Sports: How can athletes benefit from this path?

Nigel: Athletes can earn scholarships to a university that they previously weren’t able to acquire.

LRT Sports: What type of athlete do you think would benefit from going down the path of playing at a junior college?

Nigel: Athletes who are DI talent but have made mistakes or couldn’t succeed in the classroom have a high chance of benefiting from JUCO if they learn from their past and make good decisions.

LRT Sports: Would you recommend JUCO to high school athletes? Please explain?

Nigel: I would recommend Juco to only a certain group of athletes, every situation is different. Not everyone can handle the difficulties of JUCO. I would only recommend going JUCO if it is really necessary.

LRT Sports: How is adapting as far as playing at the DI level compared to playing at a junior college?

Nigel: Again, I was a “DI bounce back” so I already had the experience of a DI school. I think the hardest thing was learning a new playbook and adapting to the culture of my new DI school.

LRT Sports: What is the most challenging thing that you had to go through in junior college? And how did you overcome it?

Nigel: At my JUCO the day to day was a lot more challenging… everything from being in a small town, not having a lot of money, and distractions everywhere made the whole experience tougher. I overcame all of my problems by focusing on what is important and improving myself every day in some way.

LRT Sports: What is the best piece of advice that a coach gave you, and who was that coach?

Nigel: Coach Simms was my head coach at Garden City. He told me, “nobody cares about how you feel.” When he said this, he meant that even if you are struggling, tired, etc… people only care about your actions. If you want to be successful you have to put your feelings to the side and DO. Everyone’s tired, everyone’s struggling… the winners are the ones who can be tired and struggle and still dominate every day.

LRT Sports: What is your go-to meal before a game?

Nigel: I eat light before games. No “slow” foods that make me feel bloated. Usually, go with a salad and chicken.

YOUR JOURNEY STARTS HERE