BY GENE NARDI
If you ask Devin Gillotte what drives him to succeed, without a pause he will tell you, “making my grandmother proud.” Although she passed away two years ago, Gillotte still reflects on the woman who helped keep him focused through the years to reach his dream of playing college football.
This fall, Gillotte is making that dream a reality with a scholarship to play at Stetson University. The new “Hatter” has put in his dues, both on the gridiron and the classroom, managing a 3.5 GPA. The Wellington High School grad has been training and preparing himself for his new role on the Stetson squad by training all summer.
It wasn’t easy for Gillotte to keep his focus throughout his youth, he told the Town-Crier. “I was born in Ohio, and saw a lot of troubled things growing up early in my life,” he said.
While being moved around in homeless shelters, and then to foster care, Gillotte turned to football as a way to keep his focus. His biological mother scraped together just enough to get him started in his first season. His first coach later adopted him into a new family, and that path led him to South Florida, where he played in the Western Communities Football League.
He entered Wellington as a freshman varsity player, but not before helping Berean Christian School as a varsity player in seventh and eighth grade. “Right after my grandmother died, I decided to get more serious about football and started training,” Gillotte said.
He set the wheels in motion, working out at Athletes Advantage four times a week, helping out the younger athletes as a personal trainer.
Gillotte finished as a four-year varsity starter for the Wolverines, playing both offense and defense. The 6-foot-tall, 196-pounder set up an HUDL account, which is a web site designed for high school players to promote themselves to colleges, in hopes of getting a scholarship.
“I think I was the only Class of 2014 graduate to go on and play in college,” Gillotte added.
He helped the Wolverines to an improved record of 5-6 last season and was the team captain.
Gillotte also added wrestling to his résumé. The wrestling coach persuaded him to try out in his junior year. After not having much success on the mat, other than staying in shape for football, Gillotte saw the benefits wrestling had to offer. “It made me a lot faster for football,” he explained.
It was during his senior year that he made his mark on the mat. Gillotte wrestled in the 182-pound weight class, and finished with a 37-9 record, helping his team win a district championship. He was crowned the 182-pound weight class district champion last season. Gillotte also took titles at the conference and county championships, as well as placing fourth overall in regional competition, which qualified him for the state tournament.
It was football, though, that has captured his passion, and the Stetson running back coach saw something Gillotte had to offer the Hatters. In addition, Gillotte preferred the Stetson campus over others because he believes he can contribute to the team and the facilities were very accommodating. “My family is also nearby and can see me play,” he added.
Gillotte will be studying law or forensics at the university. One thing is certain: He is a young man on a mission and did mention that he’d love to get an opportunity to play in the National Football League one day, but for now, he’s happy being a Stetson Hatter.
To follow Gillotte and the Hatters, visit www.gohatters.com.
ABOVE: Devin Gillotte makes a run for the end zone in a game last year against Cardinal Newman.