Scotty Gilkey Jr.’s off-field generosity has garnered as much attention as his on-field play at Eastern Illinois the last two seasons.
Gilkey Jr., a redshirt junior quarterback, earned some national recognition for his work Tuesday. He is on the list of nominees for the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, an annual award given to college football players for their impact off the field. Gilkey Jr. is one of 137 nominees across all three college football divisions.
Gilkey Jr.’s list of charitable activities is, unsurprisingly, a lengthy one. He has organized a Christmas toy drive each of the last two years with the Charleston office of One Hope United. It yielded a car full of toys both times.
"It was huge. I had toys spilling out of my car and I almost didn't have enough room in my car," Gilkey Jr. told the JG-TC last August, reflecting on the 2017 toy drive. "It ended up being great, and I was told I helped hundreds of kids and that's what I wanted. I was blessed to hear that just knowing I helped out a lot of families."
Last summer, Gilkey Jr. organized a backpack and school supply drive for children in Coles County with the help of EIU’s athletic department.
“I've done this since I was younger. My family back home, growing up, if someone was in need of help, we helped them out," Gilkey Jr. said. "That's what we did here. There are a lot of kids who go to school unprepared, whether it's because they don't care or because their parents can't afford it. I want to make sure they get everything they need to better their education."
The final Good Hands Team roster of 22 award recipients will be announced in September, with 11 of them coming from FCS, Division II, Division III or NAIA schools.
As far as his football outlook this season, Gilkey Jr. will fight for the starting quarterback job under first-year head coach Adam Cushing when EIU opens fall camp in early August. He did not play in spring practices due to injury. He appeared in the 2018 opener at Arkansas as the holder on field goals, but missed the remaining 10 games with the same injury that kept him out of spring ball. He started five games in 2017.
Gilkey Jr., incumbent starter Johnathan Brantley, two-game starter Harry Woodbery and Jaylon Banks, comprise the Panthers’ quarterback room that impressed Cushing and offensive coordinator John Kuceyeski from the moment they turned on film of EIU’s current roster upon assuming their roles in January. Kuceyeski was impressed to the point where he decided EIU did not need to take a quarterback in the 2019 recruiting class.
“I walked away from it and the first thing I said to coach Cushing was that we have three guys that have won OVC games and a fourth that is a very good player and a good leader in the weight room right now,” Kuceyeski said on National Signing Day. “We feel great about the four we have.”