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Gabriel Megginson, right, an offensive lineman, prepares to block during practice for the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl.

Story by Sgt Erik Brooks
Thursday, January 1, 2015

CARSON, Calif. - For most Semper Fidelis All-Americans, the bowl game is a chance to show off their talents to colleges across the nation. For one player, there is a deeper meaning.


Gabriel Megginson grew up in Jacksonville, Illinois, with his 3 older siblings, mother and father. Growing up, he was always the baby of the family, even though he was 6’2” by the seventh grade. His siblings always called him spoiled, but his father, Timothy, taught him to be patient, a lesson learned in the Marine Corps.


“It was great having a Marine as a father,” said Gabe. “Whenever I wasn’t feeling self-motivated, he’d always be there to tell the good and bad consequences of my actions.”


Growing up in a home with a Marine father may seem intimidating to many. Most would say such a father would be demanding and there would be strict rules, but for Gabe it was the exact opposite experience.


“The Marine mentality that he taught me helped me throughout my life,” said Gabe. “He taught me whatever you’re doing, be the best at it. Act like you’re underrated but train like you’re the best. Stay humble.”


Gabe has worked hard to get where he is and his parents couldn’t be prouder.


“The work he’s put into getting to this level; the workouts, diet, talking to coaches, he’s done mostly on his own, has been amazing,” said Timothy. “And throughout the process, he has remained humble. I am proud of him, not just for football, but the man he has become.”


In April 2014, Gabe signed a commitment letter to attend the University of Illinois and play football.


“I chose Illinois because I wanted to help build a program rather than be a part of a program that was already built,” said Gabe. “I’d rather be part of history than follow people’s footsteps. They’ve always had great tradition that has faded away, and I want to be the one that brings it back.”


Many people give a verbal commitment to keep options open in case they change their minds, but Gabe couldn’t de-commit from anywhere.


“You can de-commit any time before you sign, but if you say you’re going to come to their school it’s a commitment to me,” said Gabe. “You talk to the coach, and you trust their word and they trust yours. You just give them your word, that’s all you have. I think I get that from my dad.”


Football has always been Gabe’s passion and will continue to be at the collegiate level. There were times he wanted to quit and be a normal high school student, but his father’s Marine mentality has taught him to stick with it.


“My dad has always taught me dedication,” said Gabe. “It was the biggest life lesson he’s taught me: To stick with things.”