Transfer wide receiver feeling right at home at QU
By Shane Hulsey
Brandon Gaston hasn’t had any trouble fitting in at his new school.
That’s because he can fit in anywhere.
“I really haven’t had a hard time here, honestly,” Gaston said. “I’m the type of person that’s open to everything. I’m not really a closed person. I was open to all my teammates when I first came here, and they were open to me. My coaching staff was the same way. It’s honestly like I fit in as soon as I came in.”
Gaston transferred from Western Illinois University to Quincy University this year to join the football team as a wide receiver.
Gaston said the Hawks’ up tempo offense is quite different from the offensive scheme at Western Illinois. However, the offense he was part of in high school in Chicago has some similarities to Quincy’s.
“It’s way faster here (than at Western),” he said. “I think it’s an offense that I fit well into, though. It’s a spread offense, and that’s what I started with my freshman year in high school. It’s something that I’m more familiar with because that’s what I started with my first year playing football.”
Off the football field, Gaston is adapting just as well.
“I kinda like it better here because I don’t have to drive all over the world to get to my classes,” he said. “They’re all pretty much in one building except for the ones at north campus. But besides that, everything is right there, it’s all grounded in one building for the most part.”
The Hawks enter the 2019 season with just three upperclassmen including Gaston at the wide receiver position.
Wide receivers coach Ryan Olson said Gaston brings a quality to the table this young Hawks’ squad needed: leadership.
“When he first got here, you could tell he was an experienced guy, very mature, and ready to lead,” he said. “I think he’s lived up to that since he’s been here, of being a grown man. That’s what our group needed most.”
Gaston’s 2018 season at Western Illinois was a rough one to say the least. He tore his meniscus during the second game of the season against the University of Illinois. That injury forced him to miss two games. He came back against Illinois State in the fifth game of the season…and tore the same meniscus again.
Head coach Gary Bass said these injuries can weigh on a player’s mind, but Gaston is the type of person that can overcome these mental demons.
“He’s a very mentally strong young man,” he said. “I’m sure he’s a little scared. You’re always going to be when you’re coming off injuries like that. I think one of the most important things for him was coming here and being a part of a family, being around a group of young men—coaches and players—that really care about each other.”
So what’s the key to success for Gaston this season? His coaches say, just have some fun.
“He’s got great talent,” Bass said. “He can run well. He’s big. He’s long. He’s got great hands. He’s smart. He’s tough. For us, just go out and play football and enjoy it.”
“Like we talk about with our receivers all the time, just play backyard football a little bit,” Olson said. “Play with that energy, that fun that you played with when you were a kid out tossing the ball around just having fun.”