It hasn't been much of a summer break so far for Tobias Gilliam, and that's just the way he likes it.
The University of Kentucky football commitment has been keeping busy by bouncing from camp to camp across several states, competing against some of the best high school players in the country and honing his craft as a defensive back.
"You can never get enough competition," Gilliam told the Herald-Leader of his busy schedule. "And at my position it's all about repetition. ... I'm trying to come in to play. I'm not trying to come in to sit down. I'm coming in competing."
That's not just talk, says Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt, who has seen plenty of Gilliam on the camp circuit over the past few weeks.
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"He's the ultimate competitor," Helmholdt told the Herald-Leader. "He's always bringing his best. He's always ready to play football. He has a very good skill set — it's probably not an elite skill set, but he gets the most out of what he has.
"He's not going to back down, no matter who's standing across from him."
The reviews so far this summer have been glowing.
Gilliam — a 6-foot, 180-pound prospect from Huber Heights, Ohio — has landed on Rivals.com's best defensive performers list at multiple high-profile camps. That recruiting service ranks him as the nation's No. 44 cornerback for the class of 2016, but Gilliam can play pretty much any position in the defensive backfield.
Helmholdt said the UK commitment has the ability to line up and play man coverage as a cornerback. He also has the wherewithal to excel at free safety.
"The way he's built, he should be an asset in run support," Helmholdt said. "He's not a wispy, little defensive back that gets run over by big running backs."
Gilliam said he's looking at playing boundary corner or nickel back early in his UK career. The latter spot particularly interests him.
When he's in town, Gilliam hangs out with current Cats Blake McClain and Kendall Randolph — both have played nickel back under Mark Stoops — and he tries to soak up as much knowledge about the position from talking to them and watching their game film.
He's also excited to learn directly from Stoops, who has earned the reputation as something of a defensive back whisperer, sending several players to the NFL during his stops as an assistant before coming to Kentucky.
Gilliam said the opportunity to play for such a coach was something that he "couldn't let pass," much like the chance to play football every Saturday in the Southeastern Conference.
But simply suiting up for an SEC school won't be enough.
"It ain't nothing to play in the SEC," he said, matter-of-factly. "I'm trying to win in the SEC. You can go anywhere and play in any conference. But if you win in the SEC, that means you can play at the highest level, which is the NFL. That's where I'm trying to go.
"I'm trying to help the University of Kentucky win, and that'll show that I'm ready for the next level."
UK's coaches will enjoy hearing that, but it's still a long time until national signing day and they'll have to work hard to keep his commitment and secure his signature.
Gilliam has picked up scholarship offers from Nebraska, Minnesota, West Virginia, Pittsburgh and several others since committing to the Cats in February, and more offers will likely come his way.
No one who follows UK football has forgotten the number of commitments the Cats lost down the stretch during the last recruiting cycle.
"He's definitely a prospect that Kentucky has to watch," Helmholdt said. "I have no doubt that where he wants to be right now is in Lexington, but he continues to be recruited and he continues to let teams recruit him. So he's a player that Kentucky needs to keep on."
Gilliam said he speaks at least once a week with Stoops, defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley and Vince Marrow, his primary recruiter. He's also been as much of a salesman for UK as any of the program's class of 2016 commitments on social media and in camp settings.
Going into this weekend, Rivals.com ranked UK with the No. 17 recruiting class nationally. Gilliam says the Cats can do even better, and he's going to do everything he can to make it happen.
"We're trying to get a top-10 recruiting class," he said. "We're trying to get the best recruiting class in UK history. Let's go start off our legacy right. Why not? Why not try to reach for a top-10 recruiting class in the nation? We can do it.
"I'm 100 percent all in."