National Signing Day 2014: D.J. Gillins an early enrollee for Wisconsin

UW Athletic Communications

D.J. Gillins comes to Wisconsin with high expectations as one of the school's best quarterback commits in years.

Class
Position
Height
Weight
2014
QB
6'3
185 lbs
School
Composite Ranking
Jacksonville (FL) Jean Ribault
4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit4-star recruit No. 7 DUAL QB

Go to Wisconsin Football Recruiting Hub >>

Watch D.J. Gillins highlights (posted below) and you'll quickly notice he's not the traditional pocket passer we've grown accustomed to seeing in a Wisconsin uniform. Instead, Gillins provides explosive dual-threat capabilities which allow him to extend the play and pick up big gains on the ground.

Considering the severe lack of comparison, the only former UW player who Gillins resembles is Russell Wilson. That's not a direct comparison of the two by any means, but it highlights how Wisconsin quarterbacks have historically not posed a ground threat, and that Gillins should bring at least some of that play-making potential to the table.

Back at the time of Gillins' commitment, Evan Flood of Badger247 acknowledged the concern surrounding Gillins' ACL, which caused him to miss practically his whole junior season. Flood also, however, broke down how Gillins also brings special skills to Madison.

"Talking with knowledgeable people about Gillins, many feel this is a home run addition for Wisconsin," Flood said. "A lot of schools got scared off by the ACL injury, but from all accounts, he's going to be fine and return better than ever. Gillins gives Wisconsin the play making ability from the quarterback position they haven't had since Russell Wilson."

And there's another Wilson reference. You have to think Gillins will be hearing just a few of those comparisons during his time in Madison.

Flood isn't alone in his assessment. 247 Sports Director of Recruiting JC Shurburtt also praised Gillins skills:

"Gillins is one of the top quarterback prospects in the entire country," Schurburtt said. "He has excellent footwork, quickness and a good arm. The two issues with him have been injury and then he transferred high schools, which at times causes a prospect to get lost in the shuffle a bit."

Shurburtt also likened Gillins to Wilson because of his "smooth operator sense", which I think is a terrific way to depict his approach. He simply has "the look" of a quarterback with his large frame and slick delivery. If anything, Gillins at least provides Wisconsin with a new dimension at the quarterback position and allows the coaching staff to further open up the offensive playbook.

Rankings

Rivals: 5.8 (No. 10 DUAL QB; No. 46 in FL)

Scout: (No. 46 QB)

ESPN: 80 (No. 17 DUAL QB; No. 76 in FL)

24/7: 94 (No. 4 DUAL QB;  No. 22 in FL)

Verbally committed July 8, 2013

Badgers offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and running backs coach Thomas Hammock sealed the deal with Gillins, marking the commitment of one of the best quarterback recruits to ever sign with Wisconsin. Gillins' commitment really put head coach Gary Andersen's first full recruiting class on the map. Despite losing Craig Evans, Joe Keels and Rohan Blackwood, this class is still widely viewed as one of the best in program history.

Important to note

Gillins originally committed to Texas Tech in Fall 2012, but reopened his recruitment after head coach Tommy Tuberville left for Cincinnati.

Video highlights

Statistics

Senior: Threw for 2,371 yards, 22 TDs; ran for 602 yards, 8 TDs
Junior: Missed essentially whole season due to ACL injury
Sophomore: Threw for 2,667 yards, 31 TDs, 7 INTs; ran for 5 TDs
Freshmen: Threw for 2,178 yards, 22 TDs

Honors

Three-time All-State selection
One-time All-State honorable mention (freshmen season)
Named to All-Combine Team at 2012 Orlando Nike Sparq Combine
Four-year team MVP
Four-year team captain
Also played basketball, track & field

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