MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Garrett Gilkey wasn't always able to bench press 500 pounds.
In fact, before the 6'5" 314 pound left tackle was invited to the 2013 Senior Bowl, he was bullied in middle and high school because he was small.
"I was constantly afraid to leave my house. I hated going to school, it was awful. I didn't know walking between classes who was going to knock my books down, who was going to push me and make fun of me. I was scared. I was constantly scared," said Gilkey.
Gilkey recalled walking into the high school locker room to put his baseball glove on only to find someone had urinated on it.
Even though he was on the football team at Sandwich High School, he wasn't able to perform like the other players because he had heart surgery the previous summer, which landed him on the sidelines.
"I had WPW, Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome. Your heart has an abnormal pathway for the electrical distribution, and my heart would beat abnormally fast," said Gilkey.
He said his faith in God and support from his family got him through tough times and made him stronger.
His sophomore through senior year, Gilkey attended Aurora Christian. That's when he said he hit a growth spurt.
He went on to play football at Chadron State College, where he excelled. He recently was invited to the Senior Bowl.
"Usually smaller school players can't accumulate to the high speed high strength and power of the NFL right away. I'm here to adapt to that quickly and show I'm not a developmental player. I'm a guy that can come in right away contribute and produce," Gilkey said.
During Senior Bowl week, Gilkey wants scouts and coaches to notice how he finishes plays. He said he's going to block until his opponent is on the sidelines and plans to dominate completely at this level.
Before flying into Mobile, Gilkey was in Bradenton, Fla. where he's been training with other NFL prospects at IMG Football Academy.
When he's not playing football, Gilkey said he likes to work with the youth and was majoring in special education at Chardon State.
Gilkey wants to use his possible NFL career as a platform to talk to kids about bullying, avoiding steroids and making good choices.
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