"The first moment when I hurt it, it was very frustrating" Gillins told Badger Nation. "I immediately thought I would lose all my offers. I didn't think any schools were going to recruit me. There were a million of those kind of thoughts going through my head at that exact moment."
A lot has changed for Gillins since missing virtually his entire junior season because of the injury. The three-star quarterback de-committed from Texas Tech in March after committing to the Red Raiders in November, and wonder if one school would give him the opportunity to play.
As it turned out, 18 schools gave him a chance, as Gillins eventually settled on Wisconsin July 6.
"Wisconsin helped me a lot," said Gillins, the 11th commit in the 2014 class. "They realized I could come back from the ACL injury. They weren't scared of my injury at all. They knew I could get better and were confident I would be a better player."
Since Wisconsin helped Gillins realize his dream of playing college football, Gillins is hoping to return the favor, as the dual-threat quarterback makes a quick transition from athlete to recruiter.
"I keep in touch with (Gainesville (FL) wide receiver) Kenric Young," said Gillins. "(Hyattsville (MD) Dematha Catholic running back) Taiwan Deal already committed to Wisconsin (who I talked to). There are so many recruits I talk to, but I try to keep in touch with those guys. My goal is to talk to one prospect at least once a day. "For most of the players, I get their Twitter information and try to talk to them on Twitter. Once I get them on Twitter then I get their phone numbers so I can text them and keep talking to them."
Gillins is recruiting all over the country, reaching out to players from coast to coast. He believes no player is out of reach, including the five-star Oakley (CA) Freedom High School running back Joe Mixon.
Gillins will have a hard time convincing Mixon, but if he is successful then Wisconsin could possibly land a package deal. If Mixon chooses Madison then the Badgers may benefit from his friendship with the five-star recruit, Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco High School offensive lineman Damien Mama.
"I haven't convinced anyone yet," said Gillins, "but I talk to a lot of recruits every single day who are really thinking hard about going to Wisconsin."
Gillins is just getting started with his recruiting. He still has a list of players he wants to cross off his list to add to the Badgers' 2014 committed list. Since he committed in July, Wisconsin has yet to add another verbal commit.
"(Sparta (NJ) Pope John XXIII tight end) Ryan Izzo is one of them," said Gillins. "I'm still trying to convince most of the recruits. I'm about to reach out to (Daytona Beach (FL) Seabreeze Senior High School running back) Charles Nelson. He tore his ACL just like I tore my ACL. He was also one of the best in the country before he hurt himself. I'm going to reach out to him and tell him how I tore my ACL and how Wisconsin helped me."