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McKillip from Football to Business Career

By Erik Kiewiet

Published February 23, 2023 in The Burg


Dean McKillip is a well-known name in the Galesburg area. He is known for his athletic abilities on the gridiron and leadership. McKillip graduated from Galesburg High School in 1977.

While playing at GHS, McKillip stood out with numerous accolades including over 1,000 career rushing yards as well as setting a school record for most single season rushing yards. In 2016, McKillip along with his former teammates were inducted into the GHS Hall of Fame. During McKillip’s time at GHS, he played under Coach Kelly Kane, who had tremendous respect for McKillip and has mentioned that he was the best player he had ever coached.

While at GHS he earned the opportunity of playing college football at the division one level. McKillip chose to continue his career at the University of Iowa.

McKillip’s first two years he played under Bob Cummings, during this time McKillip was able to make all the travel rosters as well as playing on special teams. He was able to have a big game his freshman year due to the starter getting hurt. As a freshman, McKillip averaged 5.4 yards per carry.

Between McKillip’s sophomore and junior year, Iowa went through a coaching change as Hayden Fry took over as head coach.

When asked about what that first reaction was to meeting Fry, McKillip said, “here’s this new head coach that comes in that you don’t know anything about and after his initial introduction of himself I went up and introduced myself to him. I’m thinking I’m just another player there. He doesn’t know me.”

As McKillip introduced himself, Fry pointed to him and said, “you are my fullback” and McKillip went on to start for him the next two seasons.

After hearing this McKillip understood where he stood on the team and knew that he was going to work his tail off for his new coach.

“Playing for him was phenomenal” says McKillip, “he had the mentality of winning is the only thing. And there are no moral victories.”

Fry was able to come into Iowa and change the culture. McKillip says he loved being a part of the culture and laying down the foundation for the future of Iowa football.

“My personal favorite memory was when we played Illinois my junior year. I had my personal best game, I gained like, 80 yards on 15 carries and scored the winning touchdown. So, we scored late in the game and that was my one yard run to put us in the lead.”

This was a defining moment in McKillip’s career.

Unfortunately, the game must end someday. McKillip earned a degree in marketing while playing football at Iowa and he was very thankful that Iowa had a great job placement program. He started his professional career with Proctor and Gamble. McKillip credits most of his career success to his experiences playing football.

“I’ve said it 1,000 times, everything you do in life is a team effort. And I think what I learned is I was 1 of 22 players that got onto the field and 1 of 85 players that helped get you ready for the field. You have to value what every person’s position is on the football field. It’s the same thing in business you have to value everybody that you worked with and for. You have to value their opinion and continue to try and learn from them”.

Through McKillip’s playing career and still today he values his family and remembers his family coming to all his games cheering him on. From an outstanding football player to a successful career in business, McKillip has left his mark in Iowa football history and continues to strive for greatness using the principles that football taught him.

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