UTSA Roadrunners Head Coach Frank Wilson announced the final piece to his 2018 recruiting class last week after DJ Gillins announced his intention to transfer to UTSA to finish out his 5th year of eligibility.
A 6’3” dual-threat quarterback, Gillins’ football career has been an extremely interesting one. Gillins first popped on the national radar as a four-star quarterback recruit out of Jean Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Florida. Despite tearing an ACL in his senior season, Gillins signed with Wisconsin over a plethora of other offers.
Unfortunately Gillins didn’t quite find an established role in Madison. While he started his career as a quarterback, Gillins was promptly moved to wide receiver where he played sparingly.
After two seasons at Wisconsin, Gillins went the JUCO route in an attempt to make a comeback as a quarterback. Gillins would land at Pearl River Community College where he completed 18 of 29 passes for 165 yards before suffering another ACL tear. Gillins maintained heavy interest from several Division I programs and eventually signed with SMU.
With Ben Hicks leading the way at quarterback, Gillins saw limited playing time as a Mustang while he continued to suffer through injury issues. Gillins sprained his right foot last season and missed several weeks, only to sprain his left foot this spring which caused him to be held out of much of spring practice.
Gillins appeared in six games for SMU last season, completing one pass through four attempts. He made one of those completions count by throwing for a 76 yard touchdown. Gillins also rushed the ball 18 times for 75 net yards and two touchdowns.
Moral of the story? Through four seasons of college football Gillins has attempted just 33 passes.
What’s even more shocking is that he’s still by far the most experienced quarterback on UTSA’s roster.
UTSA is getting a high-ceiling athlete in Gillins. It wouldn’t be shocking if Gillins finds a way to stay healthy, picks up UTSA’s offense, and jumps out to the front of the quarterback competition. Playing in three vastly different systems in five years causes quarterbacks to have to learn pretty much every play, read, and lingo quirk in the book. And with Frank Harris likely out for the 2018 season, Gillins is certainly the most athletic quarterback on the roster.
If Gillins can’t shake the injury bug or simply doesn’t factor into the quarterback battle then UTSA won’t face many repercussions. As a graduate transfer, Gillins’ scholarship only counts against the Roadrunners for one year. If nothing else then Gillins brings some maturity to the quarterback room and provides a dynamic option to simulate dual-threat standouts in practice.
With a lot to gain and practically nothing to lose, Gillins is a savvy pick up for the Roadrunners as they appear to be shifting to a zone-read offense. For both Gillins’ and UTSA’s sake, let’s hope he’s able to finally put together a full season of healthy football.