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High school career
Gado moved to Columbia, South Carolina from Nigeria when he was nine years old. He attended Ben Lippen High School in Columbia, where he was a four-sport letterwinner (football, track, soccer and basketball).
Gado posted 10 games of over 200 yards as a high school football running back. He was named Athlete of the Year as a junior, rushing for 2,100 yards and 31 touchdowns. He served as team captain in his senior campaign. His high school teammates referred to him the "Nigerian Nightmare," the nickname of former Kansas City Chiefs running back Christian Okoye. Gado currently wears his the jersey number 35 out of respect for Okoye.
Although Gado only started two games in his college career (playing behind fellow backs Dre Barnes and Eugene Goodman, his contributions to the team were significant. He played in 39 games during his college career, amassing a total of 273 carries for 1,631 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns. He also caught a total of 38 passes for 486 yards and six receiving touchdowns. His most significant numbers came in his senior year, where he proved his value to the offense by carrying the ball 138 times for 938 yards and a team-high eleven rushing touchdowns.
Because of his relatively quiet role as a backup running back at a 1-AA school, Gado went undrafted in the 2005 NFL Draft and was eventually signed to the practice squad of the Kansas City Chiefs in May 2005.
Gado was unable to make the Chiefs active roster in part due to an injury suffered during training camp, and was eventually waived from the practice squad after the first month of the season. Kansas City running backs coach James Saxon was impressed by Gado's ability, but there was no room on the Chiefs roster to retain him. Nonetheless, Saxon spoke highly of him to other teams such as the Green Bay Packers. Kansas City head coach Dick Vermeil also encouraged Gado to continue playing football.
On October 17, the Green Bay Packers signed Samkon Gado to their practice squad. Gado's future in the NFL might have ended there were it not for the unfortunate circumstances of the Packers' 2005 season. Despite being one of the premier running teams of the past few years, the Packers saw a dramatic drop in production due to the loss of both of their starting guards from the previous season and due to nagging injuries to star running back Ahman Green. Both Green and backup Najeh Davenport were eventually lost to season-ending injuries, forcing the Packers to promote Gado to the active roster alongside third-string back Tony Fisher and such players as Rashard Lee and Noah Herron.
Gado made his NFL debut, only two weeks after being signed to the Packers roster, with an eight-yard carry on October 30, 2005 in a 21-14 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. It was his only carry of the game. One week later, he was given much more playing time against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though Fisher was officially the starter of the game, Gado carried the ball 23 times for 62 yards and scored his first NFL rushing touchdown in the 20-10 loss. Coaches and teammates were impressed by Gado's performance against a strong Pittsburgh defense.
Gado began to be considered a "feel good story" for the 2005 NFL season as a nobody backup suddenly showing real potential when given the chance. The sudden media attention was also due to Gado's polite and humble personality both in interviews and on the field. After Gado's touchdown in the Steelers game, he reportedly walked up to and thanked every one of his offensive lineman for helping him to score.
On November 11, 2005, Gado started his first NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons. He responded to the challenge with an outstanding performance that instantly turned him into a household name for Packer faithful. Gado rushed 23 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns, and also caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Brett Favre, as the Packers won 33-25. Gado received the NFL Rookie of Week 10 award for the game.
For the Monday night matchup the following week against division rival Minnesota Vikings,Packer fans displayed signs with slogans such as In Gado We Trust and Oh My Gado in support of the surprising rookie. The signs were quickly hidden; despite an early 30-yard reception, Gado's output was minimal, rushing for only 7 yards on 10 attempts in a 20-17 loss.
For the next three weeks, however, Gado excelled in the starting position. He recorded two more 100-yard performances - 111 against the Philadelphia Eagles and 171 against the Detroit Lions - and scored a rushing touchdown in three straight games. He was once again awarded the Rookie of the Week award, this time for his Week 14 game against the Lions.
Gado's season ended on a sprained MCL in a December 19 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens. Before the injury, he had looked very strong against a notable Ravens defense, rushing six times for 45 yards. Though it was possible that Gado would recover in time to play the season finale, the team decided that risking any further injury to the rookie wasn't necessary, and placed Gado on injured reserve.
Gado has been rumored to start the 2006 season sharing the starting job with Ahman Green.
The hiring of offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski may improve Gado's chances to start the upcoming season. Jagodzinski plans to install the zone-blocking offensive line scheme used by Alex Gibbs to the Packers in 2006. Gado played within the zone blocking scheme while at Liberty, and his familiarity with the system may give him a competitive edge over other backup candidates during training camp.
As of May mini-camps, Gado is the only running back practicing under Jeff Jagodzinski's new zone blocking scheme who has previously started more than one game for the Packers. Ahman Green (knee injury) and Najeh Davenport (ankle injury) are unlikely to be able to practice until training camp begins in July.
He received a bachelor's degree in health promotions while taking pre-med courses at Liberty University; he has already taken the MCAT exam, and plans to retake it in April 2006. Gado plans to follow up his football career by becoming a medical missionary in his native country. His father, Jeremiah, initially left Nigeria in 1990 to study at Columbia International University, and now resides in Nigeria on mission work.
Gado is single, and resides in Lynchburg, Virginia.
On a more personal level, Samkon still remembers going over to his Pastor's house when he lived in Columbia and they both resided in the same apartment complex. The reason it is so memorable was not all the football he watched at Pastor Joe's house, but more importantly all the pizza that Pastor Joe fed Sam when he was just a growing boy back then. Samkon might also remember when Matt and Joe used to tell him that he would never make it in the NFL...I guess they were wrong huh?
|2 year NFL career||17||199||792||4||7||0|
|2 year NFL career||17||27||162||6||1||0|
Kick Return Stats
|2 year NFL career||17||3||57||19||0||0|
|2 year NFL career||17||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||39.6|
Fumble Recovery Stats
|2 year NFL career||17||5||0||0||0||0|