Three days before the 2015 season opener, Matt Gahm was a backup linebacker for Highland Park. A week later, he was one of the Scots’ top defensive linemen.
Gahm was suddenly thrust into the starting lineup because of injuries, and wound up playing well enough to earn all-district honors, despite playing out of position.
That success under pressure wasn’t a surprise to HP teammates and coaches, however, who have always known his versatility was perhaps his greatest asset. Still, Gahm is thriving this season while moving back to his comfort zone as outside linebacker.
“I had never even tried out for D-line before last year,” Gahm said. “It definitely made me a better linebacker. It was a little bit of a transition, but a lot of things transfer over from playing linebacker to playing D-line.”
He wound up recording double-digit tackles in his first varsity game at a new position, when HP topped Frisco Centennial to open last season. He played almost every snap.
“We could see his hustle and his ability to get off blocks and make plays,” said HP head coach Randy Allen. “He’s big and tall and fast. He’s got a high motor.”
Over the summer, Gahm worked on his speed by playing 7-on-7, knowing that he would transition back to linebacker this fall, and that expectations would be higher. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he has been one of the top pass rushers this season for the Scots, and even recorded his first interception against Waxahachie.
Last year, his play caught the attention of several major college programs. One of them was Virginia, whose recruiter watched Gahm during the Scots’ spring scrimmage in May.
Gahm attended a camp on the UVA campus in June and gave a verbal commitment later in the summer. He chose Virginia over New Mexico, Texas State, and Air Force, among others.
Even if Gahm’s path to varsity football took a slight detour, Allen isn’t surprised that Gahm will wind up playing on Saturdays.
“Matt has a lot of undeveloped potential, where he can get a lot better,” Allen said. “He’s got the right attitude and he’s a hard worker.”
When he joins the Cavaliers in 2017, he will be teammates with quarterback Lindell Stone, a fellow Park Cities native who currently is a senior at Woodberry Forest, a boarding school in Virginia. Neither talked to the other before committing.
“We thought it was cool that we both wound up at the same school under different circumstances,” Gahm said. “I knew Virginia was the right place for me.”