Peep the highlight reel of ELCA junior RB Trevor Gear:
By Gabriel Stovall
McDONOUGH, Ga. — Trevor Gear aptly embodies an old football cliche.
The junior version of the Eagle’s Landing Christian running back is bigger, faster and stronger than even his freshman self that had press box regulars swooning since the first day he stepped onto a high school playing field.
And we’re just talking about his brain.
Forget the physical parts of his game for a minute. The stats, the numbers. The way his 6-foot-1, 202 pound frame seems to magnetize contact — and the fact that he loves it.
Gear has come a long way from his freshman year at Union Grove — a place where he stepped on the field as the Wolverines’ starting tailback, still with middle school grass in his cleats.
He acknowledges that he forgets the first play call he ever ran. He doesn’t remember what was said in the huddle. But he knows exactly how he felt and what was powering his game at the young age of 14.
“I was running just straight off of adrenaline,” Gear said. “I wasn’t really nervous because I was just so excited to get the chance to play and start as a freshman.”
Gear ran for 126 yards that first night two years ago against Locust Grove, making cuts and showing a between-the-tackles running style that belied his youth and inexperience.
From the beginning, he looked like one of those guys who you just knew you’d be seeing on everybody’s recruiting board in the next two or three years.
But Gear’s career hasn’t been all smooth.
He ended his freshman year injured. Then he transferred to ELCA for his sophomore year, only to sit out the first six games of the season — all Charger losses against a gauntlet schedule.
And for a guy who’s in love with the action, and gets his kicks more out of who he can run over rather than run past, being in a position where he could only take mental reps got old fast.
“Last year, sitting on the sidelines, it was me and (quarterback) Donald (Hammond) just sitting there looking at everything happen,” Gear recalled. “It was terrible. I didn’t know when I was going to get to play. I could practice hard to stay in shape and be ready, but no matter how hard I practiced, I knew I wouldn’t be able to play or even dress out on Fridays.”
Both Gear and Hammond were transfers to the private school and had to clear some logistical red tape before being eligible to play. And as hard as it was to feign preparation for games he wouldn’t play, the junior back says he remembers the moment when he realized how much it paid off.
It was the Landmark game. A statement game for both Gear and ELCA. After the tough start, Gear and company showed up to Fairburn and left with a 35-28 win over their region rival.
It was as if the Chargers were announcing that their 1-6 start to the 2014 season meant nothing for their Region 5-A title hopes.
And it was the coming out party that Gear hoped to have in a big time game scenario.
Don’t ask him how many yards, carries or touchdowns he had that night. He doesn’t remember any of it, except one game changing run — easily the highlight of his career so far..
“We were either down a touchdown or the score was tied up,” Gear said. “And I had this, like, 40 or 50 yard run for a touchdown. And we took the lead and won that game.”
ELCA went on to run the table through region play and the state playoffs, capturing another region crown and topping off the year with an unlikely trip to the Georgia Dome to play for its second state title in three years.
So is it safe to say that the Landmark game may have been the one to truly shift Gear to another level?
“Yes sir,” he said emphatically. “That game gave us a whole bunch more momentum and it gave me a lot of confidence. As a team it just felt good.”
And the good feelings have carried over into the current season. The Class A No. 5 Chargers may be one of the best .500 football teams in Georgia, as this year’s 3-3 record comes with blowout wins against a highly regarded North Florida Christian squad, fellow Class A foe Mount Pisgah and Class AAAA Whitewater, not to mention close losses to Class AAAAA No. 4 Stockbridge and Class AAAA’s top dog Woodward Academy.
Gear has also been strong, rushing for over 500 yards and approximately 70 totes in his first six games as he teams up with sophomore Josh Mays to make up one of the more potent tailback tandems in the Southern Crescent.
But by now, even Gear isn’t as impressed with himself and his physical attributes as he is with his growth in the more cerebral aspects of football.
“Now the physical part, it’s just like the instincts of the game,” he said. “I’ve been playing football since I was real young, and it’s just always come easy for me. I have a love of the game. I was made to be a running back. But now, as I get older, I start paying more attention to my mind and the mental part of the game. That’s where I’ve gotten better.”
That improvement extends beyond the football field as well. Gear said he’s experienced a complete maturation overhaul since coming to ELCA — not that any thing was wrong with Union Grove.
He said he, and his family just felt that the change would be best for him in the long run.
“It was just thinking about my future,” he said. “My future even beyond just being a football player. I always knew ELCA had a good program. I knew the coach and everybody told me about him, about he’s a good Christian man, and this was a good Christian school. My parents wanted me in a good, Christian environment and we just ended up making the move.”
With no regrets?
“It was definitely the right choice,” he continued. “In general what I’ve learned from the program, the people I’m around and the men and the coaches I’m around, I’ve just matured a lot and become a much better person. Like I said, people were cool at Union Grove. It’s not that we’re better than them or anything. But just for me, and me becoming the person and young man I want to be, it’s just where I need to be.”
Now, let’s talk about the fun stuff.
Gear says he can see the difference in his body from being in ELCA’s weight program.
“I’m bigger,” he said. “And since I like contact, that’s a good thing. But definitely my speed is where I’ve improved the most. I’ve gotten way faster. And the speed of the game has slowed down a lot.”
And while some may consider Gear one of Georgia’s sleeper recruits, it probably won’t be long before that status changes either. Despite its size, ELCA is one of the Southern Crescent’s hotbeds for producing Division I talent. Already offensive tackle Chandler Reeves has committed to Clemson, and Hammond has received multiple D-1 offers.
As for Gear, no offers yet. But “I’m talking to a lot of schools, and getting a whole bunch of letters from different ones, with coaches saying they’re going to come and watch me play.”
He’s thought far enough into the recruiting process to where he already has a top three list of schools from which he’s hoping he’ll get to mull over offers.
“Clemson, Ole Miss and Georgia are really the ones I want to offer me,” Gear said. “All three of the campuses are perfect. I’ve met all of the coaching staffs and I like them a lot. The football facilities are real nice.”
And, perhaps most importantly, he feels those schools can prep him for the career he desires if football doesn’t pan out.
“I want to be an air traffic controller,” said Gear who boasts a 3.2 GPA at ELCA. “Because I like planes a lot. I’ve researched the jobs, and it seems pretty stressful, but pretty cool. I’ve got internships and stuff, but I haven’t signed up yet.”
But even with a bright future ahead, both on and off the football field, Gear said he resists the urge to daydream too much. Instead he keeps his gaze locked on what’s immediately ahead of him.
You can thank ELCA coach Jonathan Gess and his oft-preached mantra for that.
“Just win the day,” Gear said. “At ELCA that’s our motto, win the day. I want to be able to lead, and be bigger and stronger and faster and get ready for the next level and be able to exceed at the next level, but that all starts with being able to win what’s in front of you. If you’re gonna go hard in practice each day and in the day to day stuff, it’s going to show up in the game.”