Glenwood’s Luke Gair walks on with Missouri football
Luke Gair knew where he wanted to go for college and what he wanted to do in college dating back to his early childhood.
Gair dreamed of not only studying at the University of Missouri, but also playing for the football program.
Coming out of tiny Glenwood Springs, the odds were stacked against Gair getting a spot on the Tigers’ football team in the tough Southeastern Conference, but on Aug. 19, Gair’s dream came true as the Tigers awarded him a roster spot, a helmet, and a locker with plans on using him on the scout team offense and defense with a chance to crack the gameday roster on special teams.
“Honestly, it’s a dream come true,” Gair, who is studying industrial engineering at Mizzou, said during a phone interview from his dorm room in Columbia, Missouri. “When they gave me my helmet and locker, it really didn’t feel like I was there; it was all surreal. Everything I’ve ever wanted was being placed in my hands, and I’m so excited to be part of this great program.”
Two years ago, Missouri offered Gair a preferred walk-on spot in the recruiting process, but last season — Gair’s senior year at Glenwood — the Tigers gave the preferred walk-on spot to another player, leaving Gair in limbo. The senior, who rushed for 1,576 yards and 22 touchdowns in three years at Glenwood while adding 40 receptions for 598 yards and two touchdowns, garnered some attention from smaller Division II schools like the University of Northern Colorado, but Gair remained steadfast in his desire to play for the SEC program, even if they didn’t seem to show much interest until late in the process.
“I’d been communicating with them here and there, but I didn’t really know if I was going to play football for them,” Gair said. “In the back of my mind, I made the decision to come to Missouri for the education, but it really ate at me that I wasn’t playing football this fall until they called me Monday and asked if I was interested in coming out for the team.
“But once I got that call and got a chance, there was just a lot of satisfaction that I felt,” Gair added. “I realized that all the hard work was towards something, and that it’s actually possible to make it coming from a small-town school like Glenwood. That’s a big lesson in life for me, knowing that if you have the will and the determination, things will work out.”
Once Gair got word he’d earned a spot on the Tigers’ team, he fired off a quick text message to his father, Todd, with a picture of his Missouri helmet and locker.
“It was a really cool moment,” Todd Gair said. “We weren’t expecting him to get a chance so quickly; it was just a great moment to get that text from Luke. He was kind of up in the air about not being a preferred walk-on with them and all the work being worth it without getting a real chance, but once they gave him his helmet and told him what the plan was, he was all in.”
Gair’s point of contact at Mizzou over the years has been former CU star safety Ryan Walters, now the Tigers’ secondary coach under head coach Barry Odom. Former Glenwood Springs head coach Rocky Whitworth has a long-standing relationship with Walters, so the connection was there from the coach’s side, as well as the family side.
“Missouri was our home, but we moved here to Colorado when Luke was 3,” Todd Gair said. “His mom and a number of aunts graduated from Mizzou, so he’s always wanted to go there and wanted to play football there. We’re really happy for him and proud of him. He set his mind to achieve this and worked hard over the years, so it’s great to see him get rewarded.”
Gair won’t travel with the Tigers for the first year, unless he makes the gameday roster as a special teams player in his first year. However, Gair will dress for home games and will get to run out of the tunnel with the Tigers on Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium.
“I’m really looking forward to that moment,” Gair said. “It’s hard to put it into words, honestly.”
The Tigers open on the road Saturday, Aug. 31, at Wyoming before opening up at home on Saturday, Sept. 7, against West Virginia.
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.