Although he isn't the starter, Gaskins plays a very important role on the team. He's the backup at the most visible and scrutinized position on the football field. At a moment's notice, the team is his to direct and to lead. It's a role that no competitive athlete yearns for, but is a role that Gaskins has learned to embrace.
"I've learned to love my role on this team," said Gaskins. "It's a role that you don't strive for - being the backup quarterback. You obviously want to play, but I recognize the role I play on this team and I really do love it."
Gaskins says that benefiting the team is foremost in his thoughts. Indeed, it seems that he eschews personal glory in place of helping out the team as best he can. For Gaskins, it has been beneficial to look at his role as a team role rather than an individual role.
"I've learned a lot from Coach Mendenhall and from Coach Doman - that my role is not an individual role," said Gaskins. "My role is about how I can make this team better. It's a team role, it's for the team. I think I've learned a lot how to do that and have accepted it."
Becoming the backup didn't happen all at once for Gaskins. The assumed backup, Cade Cooper, went down with an injury and eventually transferred after spring ball. It was during the Blue and White Game at the end of spring practice in which Gaskins took the reigns as the backup to Hall, showing during that game that he could get it done.
"I know I can play, which makes it a bit frustrating that I'm the backup," said Gaskins. "But you can see that Max can obviously play as well, so it's my job to help him succeed as much as I can while being ready to hopefully match what he does if he were ever to go down."
Helping out Hall has become Gaskins' main responsibility during practices, film-viewing sessions, and especially during the course of a game. Gaskins has done his best to help coach Hall as much as he can during the course of a game.
"It's my role to do everything I can to help the starting quarterback," said Gaskins. "During the game whenever Max comes off the field, I go over coverages with him, I talk to him about what he's seeing on the field. I talk to him about blitzes or weak spots I see on their team and stuff like that."
Hall has taken a lot of big hits while standing in the pocket during games. Gaskins said it's important to get right back up after taking those hits, which is something he is consistently encouraging Hall to do.
"We have a great offensive line, but Max has taken a lot of big hits, which can be very frustrating," said Gaskins. "No one likes to get hit, so when he does and comes off the field I'm sure to encourage him to get through it."
Ironically, Gaskins is just one big hit away from assuming the starting role, should Hall not get up after one of those hits. Like most backup players, Gaskins is more than ready to assume the role.
"Of course I want to play," said Gaskins. "I want every rep and every opportunity that a starter has, but that's not my role right now. My role is to be as ready as possible should Max ever go down, which I certainly don't wish for."
However, if Hall were to go down, Gaskins is confident in his abilities to get it done on the field.
"I've progressed a lot in this offense and feel that I could do a good job if I were to ever play," said Gaskins. "I feel confident in my reads in the limited reps I get during practice. I feel my timing is good with the receivers and I'm reading the coverages well. If it happens where I have to go in and be the starting quarterback, I'm certainly ready."