Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune | January 12, 2015
It wasn’t a sense of entitlement that prodded Thom Gatewood to implore legendary Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian to move him from running back to wide receiver early in his Irish football career.
It was actually a sense of survival, from the daily poundings administered by the first-string defense that Gatewood took on the scout team in the fall of 1968, in part because he was playing a position that was completely foreign to him.
“I never played football until the 10th grade,” Gatewood said in a telephone interview Friday. “Just simple things, like putting your hands in the right position to take a handoff, I didn’t know how to do. And no one was going to slow down to let me catch up.
“I was emulating O.J. Simpson one week and Leroy Keyes the next. There wasn’t a lot of throwing in those days, so the tailbacks were featured guys, and that made me a target in practice. But all those skills I learned ended up making me a better wide receiver. And when coach Parseghian finally did give in and let me move, those skills really helped me.”
The college football world was reminded just how far Gatewood took those skills and that opportunity, when he was inducted Friday into the College Football Hall of Fame.