Kilbride chasing an opportunity: Perrysburg grad committed to starting for BGSU football


Bowling Green State University 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior tight end Nic Kilbride grew up next door to the late well-known restaurateur Ray Frick in the Carrington Woods neighborhood of Perrysburg.

The Frick and Kilbride families were close, and it was not uncommon for Ray Frick, founder of the Fricker’s sports bar and restaurant chain, to give the Kilbride family gift cards to the Perrysburg eatery on Fremont Pike.

A couple of weeks ago, Kilbride and some his teammates, including 6-1, 295-pound sophomore offensive lineman Cade Zimmerly (Perrysburg) and 6-5, 250-pound junior tight end Levi Gazarek (North Baltimore), stopped off to eat at Te’kela, a Mexican restaurant on Dixie Highway.

Kilbride did not know it was in that building that Frick got his start in the entertainment business while earning his graduate degree from BGSU. Frick oversaw crowd control at the then-popular nightclub Dixie Electric Company.

Kilbride also was never told that after a standout prep career at Toledo Waite, Frick played football for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Apparently, a little bit of Ray Frick has rubbed off on Nic Kilbride without him even knowing it. It’s taking a little time to pay off.

It is common knowledge that tight ends are a big part of BGSU football coach Scot Leoffler’s game strategy, but Kilbride has only played in one game — against Ohio at Doyt Perry Stadium in 2020.

Kilbride could have transferred to an NCAA Division II or III school, where he would likely start immediately, but his commitment is to BGSU.

Kilbride’s father Ian was a standout center for Toledo Bowsher, his second cousin Colin McCafferty played football at Mount Union, and so football in his blood.

Plus, when you stick to the program at the NCAA D-I level, sometimes it takes a few years to build the strength and size before you’re ready for gameday against some of the nation’s best college football players.

“I would like to see some time,” Kilbride said. “I just expect to have a good time and we’ll see what happens.

“I’m trying to travel (squad) — that’s the goal for myself — got on special teams or get something like that.

“This will be my fourth year, because the whole COVID year makes it kind of crazy, but it doesn’t feel long. I’m just going to have a good time, you know.”

That’s the other thing — he enjoys being part of the program, anyways, so why change a thing?

“I think everyone is supportive about just keeping going. Everyone is going through it together. Everyone just has the same mindset,” Kilbride said.

“Right now, we are doing some workouts, mini-practices, and conditioning. It’s tough, and the summer is pretty tough because you’re running a lot and you know fall camp is coming up. You just stay together, and it goes better if you are having fun with it.”

Emphasis on team bonding

First of all, Kilbride gets along with his teammates, and that includes others in the tight end room, like Gazarek, 6-4, 240-pound junior Griffin Little (Fort Wayne Homestead), and 6-5, 250-pound senior Andrew Bench (Genoa).

“Levi is probably one of my closest friends on the team,” Kilbride said. “I think we’re all pretty close in the tight end room.

“We go out. The other day we all went to eat at a restaurant in Perrysburg, and we played mini golf before that, and I think we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We’re solid. It’s a good group.”

Kilbride does find it a bit ironic that Zimmerly’s younger brother, 6-4, 285-pound offensive lineman Grant Zimmerly, has chosen to play football at the University of Toledo, where he will be a freshman this year.

“I think it’s funny, but I think Grant is a good player. I think he’ll have some great potential there. He’s a big guy,” Kilbride said.

As far as the Falcons are concerned, Kilbride is confident about the upcoming season, despite all the transfers in and out of the program.

“I think the expectations are to win the MAC championship for sure,” Kilbride said. “Even though there are guys coming in and out, it’s tough sometimes to build a relationship because of that, but I think it’s all working right now.

“We just had a run today and there are some guys trying to push people along, trying to lead. New leaders are emerging and stuff like that. I think the new guys are fitting in so I think it’s going. I think it’s going to be solid.”

Kilbride says he acquired his team bonding qualities while a player at Perrysburg.

In his sophomore year, the first of three seasons playing for Kregel, Kilbride caught 28 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns.

As a junior, he played in only two games because of an injury but earned 16 receptions and 200 yards. As a senior, he helped the Yellow Jackets to the state playoffs and an 8-3 record by catching 39 passes for 820 yards and eight TDs.

Kilbride was named first team All-Northern Lakes League, all-district, and All-Ohio in Division I. He was All-Academic All-NLL as a senior, serving as team captain, plus contributed to the varsity basketball team his final two years of high school.

“I loved it. I talk about it all the time with some of my friends I used to play with at Perrysburg. We’re all still close, and it was honestly the best time,” Kilbride said.

“I just really enjoyed it. (Coach Matt) Kregel, playing at BG, and he kind of prepared me a little bit. He is local, so he’s been there, and I really loved my time at Perrysburg.”

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