John has also shown leadership on the Wade Hampton campus. He served Wade Hampton High School as class President his freshman, sophomore, and junior years and looks to run for student body president this spring. During the Eastside / Wade Hampton charity drive last fall, he was instrumental in helping to raise over $200,000 in funds which went to assist the Greenville County Women's Shelter for abused and battered women.
"Eastside week and the rivalry is a special week for the whole student body at Wade Hampton" Gillis states. We know each other so well and that carries over to the football field. Plus there are so many events surrounding the entire week. The excitement is great and we have a chance to help other people through the charity fundraisers."
Class 3A, Region 2 is shaping up to be an exciting region in 2003 with the emergence of Greenville as a state power and with Eastside and Wade Hampton making strides towards winning programs. John Paul knows it will take hard work this off season to be prepared for the 2003 season and big region match ups.
"Everyone wants to win the big games, win a region title, go to Columbia for state and win a state championship. But we are looking to take it one step at a time; we want to improve our strength by working out harder and longer, improve our speed and work on our techniques. Then we will take the first game and prepare for that opponent and look at things week to week. If we stay focused, listen to our coaches, prepare during the next few months and give it 100% then the opportunity for success will be there."
The senior captain plays every position on the offensive line but looks to concentrate on the center position in 2003. He will play mainly on the offensive side of the ball but will play defense if the coaches need him to go both ways on occasion. "I guess my biggest strength in my game is my mobility and my technique. The coaches have drilled us hard on making sure we are in the correct position and are using the correct fundamentals along the line."
Heading into spring evaluation period, John Paul has received letters from over 30 colleges. He list South Carolina and Virginia as his favorites by a wide margin. "I like what both programs have to offer. Both have strong academics, great coaching staffs and great traditions" says Gills. He hopes to major in a science related field and perhaps look at medical school in the future.
South Carolina is the school most in contact via mail. John Paul is receiving 3 times more mail from USC than any other school. He is also hearing from Virginia, Tennessee, Duke, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech. "I have not received a single call or letter from Clemson and that seems strange to me when so many other schools are contacting me. I find it amazing that they have not at least written" claims Gillis.
Last week, John Paul was in Columbia to view the USC spring practice and enjoyed his time on campus. He also attended junior day at Virginia and believes that the Cavs are building a great program in Charlottesville. The recent trip to Columbia was made with fellow Greenville County recruits, Jason Leventis and Chris McDowell of Eastside High School and all reported a great day watching the Gamecocks run through their spring drills.
But before recruiting season moves into full gear, John Paul and the Generals are preparing for the 2003 season and if Gillis has his way, the Generals could make some real noise come playoff time.
Best of luck to John Paul, head coach Rick Scott and the Generals on a successful 2003 campaign.