Gillins is Ready to Compete

One of four players in the 2014 recruiting class planning to enroll early, Jacksonville (FL) Ribault quarterback D.J. Gillins makes it clear that he wants to play and contribute for the Badgers in 2014.

MADISON - When he was a sophomore in high school and started getting college recruiting interest, quarterback D.J. Gillins told himself that, if given the chance, he wanted to enroll early in college to get a head start on the playbook, get familiar with the playbook and the coaching staff.

That's his plan at the University of Wisconsin, and he thinks he can contribute right away.

"I think I can get playing time," Gillins told BadgerNation. "I don't care if I have to do Wildcat. I really want to contribute. I want to go up now instead of having to cram everything in."

Gillins is joining offensive linemen Michael Deiter and Jaden Gault and safety Austin Hudson as early enrollees in the 2014 recruiting class, which currently has 24 commits and is ranked No.18 in the Scout.com ratings. Gillins will be thrown right into the quarterback mix with Joel Stave (a redshirt junior next season), Bart Houston (redshirt sophomore) and Tanner McEvoy (redshirt junior).

After taking his official visit in late September, Gillins already feels like he's a part of the team.

"I have the same feelings that they probably have," said Gillins. "When they win I am real excited. I am hyped up. When they lose, like Arizona State, I had a little temper tantrum. I already feel a part of the team. Even when we lost to Penn State I was disappointed because I thought we should have won.

"This team doesn't take people lightly. Big Ten football, no matter the record, is always competitive. It's like I am already a part of the team."

The 6-3, 190-pounds Gillins has already shown he can adapt to new surroundings. A three-star prospect and No.47 quarterback in the country by Scout.com, Gillins transferred across town to Jacksonville (FL) Ribault High after spending his first three seasons at Eagle's View High School, the last of which was primary spent on the sidelines after tearing his ACL.

"I already knew some of the players, so I was comfortable," said Gillins. "It was all about getting on the same level. It was frustrating at first, but as time got on we pretty much got together. I stopped being nervous right before the season started."

Throwing for over 2,000 yards on the season, Gillins led his team to a 7-4 record, turning a struggling program around that went 4-7 a year ago.

"It was a great season," said Gillins. "I got to learn new things, meet new people and make some good friends. I was able to come back from an ACL injury. That was big for me. I wasn't worried, but people always talked about it and take shots at you. They try to hurt you and get you out of the game because they know your name, but my knee held up.

"I almost had 400 yards rushing in half the season. I had to stop running because I wanted to get everyone else involved."

Gillins committed to Wisconsin over Arizona, Boston College, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt in early July, and has enjoyed a quiet few months on the recruiting scene.

"I felt so relaxed," said Gillins. "I didn't have to talk to a lot of recruiters like I used to, telling them about my day and always being on the phone. Now I just talk to one coach in coach Ludwig. We just have fun. I love the coaching staff."

While Ludwig has been the primary recruiter, Wisconsin has made sure plenty of coaches are interacting with Gillins. Gary Andersen came down to one of Gillins' games, Thomas Hammock and Dave Aranda have spent time developing a relationship with him and Ludwig came down for an in-home visit this month. Gillins said more coaches are planning on returning.

"I've pretty much talked to all the coaches on the staff, and have a great relationship with them," said Gillins. "It's surprising because I call up any of the coaches and ask them a question. I can call up coach Aranda and ask him about a play."

Gillins has one finally role before heading up to Madison, drive down to Orlando and watch the Badgers take on South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl.

"South Carolina has a great defensive line, probably one of the best in the country, and Jadeveon Clowney is a threat," said Gillins. "Their defense is their backbone, but I think with our running game and our offensive line, South Carolina hasn't seen anything like that. I am excited for it."


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