Preston Gillen will not win the Heisman Cup. And you won’t find his name on any of the All-Ten teams, unless they have “academic” in their title.
Gillen, however, brings a lot of intangible value to Gopher, who will attempt to set his own record 3-0 in Saturday’s home game against Colorado. On a team described by coach B.J. Flick as the most connected of his six seasons in Minnesota, Gillen, a back and special teams player, excels as a conductor.
Need a guide? Just check the reaction to Jilin, a fifth-year junior who scored the first touchdown of his career last week at 30 yards in the fourth quarter of Govers’ 62-10 win over Western Illinois.
From jubilant veterans Tanner Morgan, Tyler Knobin and Chris Ottman-Bell to newcomers Quinn Carroll and Chuck Veliga, an impressive side-celebration of the former TD Walking Trail is set to be one of the highlights of Gopher’s season.
Gopher offensive coordinator Kirk Ciaroca said: “Emotions ran through me in the press box when I saw this happen. It really happened. I get emotional now when I think about it. … He’s had to deal with a lot of adversity, and he has responded in a very positive way.” roads.”
Jilin was also emotional when he saw the reception.
Citizen Prior Lake said, “It was hard to stop smiling. All the men were waiting there, and everyone had smiles on their faces. It was a moment I will never forget.”
His teammates’ reactions were rooted in the ordeals Jilin endured, the most recent of which occurred at 2021 training camp when he suffered a ruptured ACL, as well as a ruptured meniscus. He needed surgery last September to repair the damage and a second surgery in April as a cleaning procedure. Add to the surgery to repair his torn foot ligaments during his first year, and two generations treated a lot.
Flick said: “He is an important person on this football team, not just as a player. He has overcome a lot with his surgeries. He is an incredible person.”
“Wealth favors the bold”
Gillen’s play for the Gophers can be traced back to his high school days at Prior Lake, where coach Matt Gegenheimer used the “Fortune favors the bold” mantra as a motivational tactic for the Lakers. , received interest from some NCAA Division II programs but had his thinking on the Gophers.
“He always hoped to play for Minnesota, and he knew what he was up against when he went there,” Gegenheimer said. “He’s the kind of kid who wouldn’t accept ‘no’ for an answer.”
When Flick offered a place on the shortlist as a favorite, Jilin accepted.
“I wanted to bet myself, it was the best decision I ever made,” Gillen said.
Jilin made his mark during training in 2018, being named Special Team Scout of the Year. He had three races in 2019 and excelled on special teams in 2020, blocking a bet against Michigan.
In high school, Gillen sustained elbow and ankle injuries that required surgery, which made him consider a career path that would include orthopedics.
He said, “I’ve always been somewhat interested in medicine, but the first surgery in my first year in high school really sparked that interest. And obviously after that, the additions just confirmed that passion. I had a lot of amazing surgeons and doctors who helped me get back to what I love him, and I want to be that person for the other young athletes.
Gillin earned a bachelor’s degree in human physiology with a minor in chemistry in May, and is working in the medical industry program at the Carlson School of Management. He took the MCAT and will eventually apply to medical school. It is also the three-time All-Big Ten academic choice.
Flick joked that he will have four appointments with Jilin for knee and shoulder replacement surgeries in the future.
made his mark
Before he embarks on a medical career, Jelen has some football to play and a team to help drive. He’s the fourth in the running back Gophers and has two runs for 32 yards.
In his career, Gillen took a pass from quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, found a touch away from the right tackle, slashed to the left, stomped high on his way through a potential attacker, and managed through Leathernics’ defense back and into the area.
There was a big hole on the left side, and I was like, ‘Please cut,’ said Mike Brown Stevens, one of the wide receivers. Please cut. “She only had one person to beat. It was very exciting, just to see someone who beat so many.”
On Saturday against Colorado, Jilin won’t be the first defender off the bench and may not get a load, depending on how the game goes. His coach still knows his worth.
Flick said: “He is going to have more success in his life other than football. But he loves being on a team, he loves being around the players, he loves the culture. He is everything you want as a person on that football team.