Pearl River CC quarterback D.J. Gillins has taken a long road to get to this point. The former Scout four-star quarterback transferred from Wisconsin to the Mississippi community college, tore his ACL in his first game and now has committed to SMU.
SMU made Gillins feel at home on his visit and that settled it for the 6-3, 205-pound dual-threat quarterback.
"I guess when I took my visit, it just felt right. It felt like a program I could see myself in," Gillins said. "The family environment and the certain feel I got with the coaches, it was just a great feeling."
SMU likes Gillins' dual-threat ability and feel like he can succeed in SMU's up-tempo attack.
"Coach Tru, coach Craddock and coach Morris felt like I can do great things and they believe in me. They just told me to come in and be ready. It's a great opportunity and it's an open competition in the spring. It's perfect. I just need a chance to prove myself. I just want to help the team out."
Gillins went to SMU on an unofficial visit during fall camp and came away impressed with how Chad Morris operates his program.
"There was a certain feeling around it how everybody is around it. How coach Morris runs the program. I just felt like it was a great opportunity," Gillins said. "Really just getting back to D1 and enjoying football for the next two years."
Offensive coordinator Joe Craddock made a big impression on Gillins on his visit both on and off the field.
"They type of family man he is. It was really amazing seeing him. Just learning a lot about him. I didn't talk much. I'm a big observer and there's things I just notice about him at practice and how he goes into a fall camp practice, you see how a coach acts to the team and how he pushes his players. He gets in their butt when they need it and it was pretty cool seeing it. When I saw that, I thought this might be the spot for me."
Morris was excited to hear the news from Gillins on Tuesday night.
"He was fired up. He said Pony Up and he can't wait to see me in Texas."
With his recovery from his injury ahead of schedule, Gillins is already chomping at the bit to come in and compete for the starting job.
"It's going pretty well. I'm ahead of schedule. It's going really well actually. I'm walking and doing step ups. Not too far out from surgery. Right around spring time, I think SMU starts around February. I'll be right off my six-month mark so hopefully, I'll be able to practice early."
Southern Miss and Troy were the two schools Gillins committed to SMU over. Gillins said he'll likely return to SMU to catch a game, but doesn't know when yet.