The Villanova football team’s starting center, Colin Gamroth, was honored by the Colonial Athletic Association this past week as the conference’s 2021 football scholar-athlete of the year. But if it wasn’t for a last-ditch email sent by Gamroth to Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante in 2017, the Wildcats would never have found their leader on the offensive line.

Following a decorated high school career in the Seattle area as both an offensive and defensive tackle, Gamroth searched for schools that would allow him to continue to play football at the collegiate level. But after garnering little attention in the recruiting process, he turned his focus to applying as purely a student at several universities, Villanova among them.

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In the weeks leading up to his college decision, Gamroth decided to make one more effort to play football. He reached out to the football department of each school he applied to one final time to see if any had had a change of heart and would be interested. To his delight, Villanova was.

Now a three-time All-CAA selection and starter of 30 consecutive games, Gamroth began his journey with Villanova as a preferred walk-on. The only problem was, at that time, he had already begun the physical transition for life after football.

“In high school, my playing weight was around 250,” said Gamroth. He got down to around 220, “but then had to go back to putting on weight now that my career wasn’t over.”

The 6-foot-4 Gamroth currently weighs 305 pounds.

Gamroth redshirted his freshman year before making his debut in 2018 because of some injuries on the line. The following season, Gamroth solidified himself as the starting center, a position he has held in every game since making his first start on Aug. 24, 2019, against Colgate.

In addition to the physical grind of the position, there are mental responsibilities that come with playing the offensive line. Gamroth, with his 3.91 undergraduate grade-point average in computer engineering, was more than capable of handling it.

“I love the leadership aspect of it,” Gamroth said of playing center. “It’s sort of like the quarterback of the offensive line, having to make sure everyone’s working together.”

Gamroth, who graduated last May, has a 4.0 GPA in his graduate-level classes as he pursues master’s degrees in both cybersecurity and software engineering.

“Thankfully, some of the classes count for both majors,” Gamroth said, “so it’s not twice as many classes to get both.”

Total lectures aside, Gamroth has found a way to balance his academic schedule with the day-to-day responsibilities of being a Division I athlete. According to him, it would not have been possible without Villanova’s support staff.

“I think the biggest thing is just time management,” said Gamroth, “whether that was our office, tutoring, or them helping organize my schedule.”

If all that was not enough, Gamroth also played a part in Villanova’s efforts to assist the American Sign Language Association. As a part of his senior project, he was a member of a team developing a translator using radar technology that would allow a deaf person to communicate with someone who doesn’t know sign language.

“It’s not a completed product yet,” Gamroth said, “but just trying to advance the technology and get closer to something was the goal.”

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All of these accomplishments contributed to Gamroth’s being named the top football scholar-athlete in the CAA, which he called a team effort and refused to take full credit for.

“I definitely appreciate the recognition,” he said, “but it’s all thanks to what they’ve done to help me excel both on and off the field.”

After helping Villanova win its first CAA football title since 2012 and advance to the quarterfinals of the FCS playoffs, Gamroth intends to exercise his extra year of eligibility and return to Villanova for a sixth season.“

Building off of last season, I’m just excited to get back out there with my brothers,” said Gamroth.