National Signing Day is less than a week away, but Pearl River Community College is already a step ahead in its recruiting for the 2016 football season.
Three players who spent last fall with Division I programs have transferred to PRCC and are on campus for the spring semester, ready to help the Wildcats turn their fortunes around.
Quarterback D.J. Gillins comes to Pearl River after playing as a wide receiver for Wisconsin last fall, joining wide receivers Matthew Eaton, who transferred from Temple, and Jariah Tolbert, who comes from Nebraska.
All three players will have one season of eligibility at PRCC.
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"We're extremely excited to have those caliber of players join our program at mid-year," said first-year Wildcat coach David Saunders. "They will have an impact on the high school seniors out there who are considering us in the recruiting process."
Eaton played high school ball at Pascagoula High, catching 49 passes for 834 yards and 6 TDs as a senior in 2013. He picked Temple over Navy, Appalachian State and Arkansas State.
"Temple offered me real late, like a week before Signing Day," Eaton said. "I had family there, so I felt like that's where I wanted to go."
After a redshirt season in 2014, Eaton (6-4, 201) appeared in two games for the Owls last fall, catching one pass for 11 yards.
"Temple was a great program, but I just didn't think it was the right place for me," Eaton said.
Gillins, was one of the top-rated dual-threat quarterbacks in the country coming out of Ribault High School in Jacksonville, Fla.
As a senior in 2013, he passed for 2,371 yards and 22 touchdowns, and ran for 775 yards and 13 scores. In his four years as a starter, passed for more than 7,200 yards.
He chose Wisconsin in 2014 after considering offers from West Virginia, Texas Tech, North Carolina and Louisville.
"I tore my ACL my junior year, but the coach at Wisconsin, Coach (Gary) Anderson stuck with me, and came down to see me," said Gillins, who was listed at 6-foot-3, 198 pounds on the Badgers' 2015 roster. "I loved being there."
However, a coaching change to a pro-style offense under Paul Chryst led to Gillins' decision to leave Wisconsin. He considered considered junior college offers from Iowa Westerm, ASA Miami, Jones County and Butler (Kan.) before deciding to come to PRCC.
Gillins said the arrival of new Wildcat offensive coordinator Cleo Lemon was the deciding factor in his decision.
"When I was in high school, Coach Lemon was my 7-on-7 coach," Gillins said. "He knew me and I knew him, and he pushed me before I got all the big offers."
Tolbert (6-3, 190) was one of three players from his high school in New Orleans, Edna Karr, who signed with the Cornhuskers in 2014. He also considered Southern Miss, Utah and Northwestern State before signing with Nebraska.
"We already had a linebacker who was committed to Nebraska, so all three of us thought it would be kind of cool to all go to school up there," said Tolbert, who caught 56 passes for 875 yards and 12 touchdowns for Karr in 2013.
"It was an awesome fan base, but I just didn't feel like it was the right environment for me. Me and D.J. knew each other from when I was living in Florida, and we had a little bit of chemistry together. We thought it would be cool to come over here and play together."