Former Hawkeye All-American Frank Gilliam Passes

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Former University of Iowa All-American Frank Gilliam passed away on April 2 at the age of 89. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Gilliam was a three-year letterwinner, playing for the Hawkeyes from 1953-56 as a defensive end, where he was a member of the “Steubenville Trio” with Calvin Jones and Eddie Vincent. All three players hailed from Steubenville, Ohio, before making their way to Iowa City.

Iowa finished the 1953 season with a No. 9 national ranking, finishing the year with six first-place votes. It was the team’s highest finish since 1939. Gilliam led Iowa in receptions during the 1953 and 1954 seasons.

After missing the 1955 season because of injury, Gilliam helped the Hawkeyes to a 9-1 record, a Big Ten title and their first Rose Bowl appearance in 1956. Iowa won the 1957 Rose Bowl, defeating Oregon State, 35-19.

Gilliam was named second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten in 1956. He was also a second-team All-Big Ten honoree in 1954. Gilliam was selected in the seventh round of the 1957 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.

In 1989, Iowa fans selected Gilliam to the all-time Iowa football team during the 100th-anniversary celebration. He was voted as a starting defensive end along with Andre Tippett.

Gilliam played his final three seasons for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the Canadian Football League before returning to the University of Iowa as an assistant coach under Jerry Burns from 1966-70. He then joined the Minnesota Vikings as one of the first Black scouts in the National Football League (NFL) – a position he held for more than 36 years – until retiring in 2007.

In 2022, the Vikings launched the Gilliam-Reichow Personnel Fellowship to teach participants about “player evaluation, scouting, film study, data analysis and intangible elements” that factor into developing an NFL roster while honoring the legacies of Gilliam and Jerry Reichow.