The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Valdosta (GA) prospect has listed his favorites as Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida, but with recent interest from northern schools such as MSU, Michigan and Notre Dame, could he see himself competing outside of Dixie in the next few years?
"If I got a chance to know more about them … I really could go to Michigan State," he says. "Right now I'm trying to find out more about them.
"They're so far from my home, I don't know too much about them," he continues. But he does like what he has heard from quarterbacks coach Dave Warner and head coach Mark Dantonio: an emphasis on team unity.
"(Coach Dantonio and coach Warner) told me a little about (MSU) … they called me and spoke about family and everything like that."
He points to the early commitment of linebacker Chris Norman as a positive for the program from a recruit's point of view, then goes on to emphasize his willingness to trek north.
"A couple of my teammates, as a matter of fact, they just signed with Western Michigan, and they're going up there to play."
If Michigan State made a push and recruited him harder, would he be open to considering the Green and White?
"Oh yeah," he says.
Backing the sentiment that he'd move out of the south is the appearance of Notre Dame in his favorites list.
"The teams I'm considering the most is like Georgia, Georgia Tech, and, um, I'm looking at Notre Dame also."
But the southern attention won't let up: "Just a few minutes ago I got offered by Auburn," he said. "That's 21 (offers) now."
The linebacker position really appeals to Gilliard, who enjoys the non-stop action.
"At linebacker you get to run around, do blitzes and things," he says. "I just like the contact at linebacker."
He reports a max bench press of 275-pounds, a squat of 450, and a power clean of 305.
Wherever he ends up, Gilliard will bring not only a wealth of talent, but plenty of leadership potential as well. He worked to motivate his teammates and set an example as a junior, and plans to do more next season.
"Especially my senior year," he says. "I gotta lead my team."