When considering the differences between football and baseball, one might think that an athlete, especially a linebacker, might be the proverbial “bull in a china shop” on the baseball field. That’s not the case for L.C. Bird third baseman Darius Gillus.
“You’d think a linebacker would be a rough kid out here on a baseball field, but everything just flows when he plays,” said L.C. Bird coach Doug Wagner.
Though talented on the gridiron, baseball has been Gillus’ primary sport since tee ball. As a youngster, Gillus drew inspiration from Bo Jackson posters on the wall and heard stories about him from his father, Quinton Gillus, who is in the army.
“My goal was to play two sports and to be like him,” said Gillus. “He’s [Jackson] the greatest athlete of all time.”
Gillus primarily plays third base and pitches for the Skyhawks, and tossed his first complete game April 14 against Glen Allen. At the plate he’s physically strong, displaying power to the gaps complimented by solid and improving plate discipline. The senior is hitting .345 with a .490 on-base percentage.
“He has the finesse needed to play baseball,” explained Wagner. “He’s a powerful kid in the batter’s box, but he’s smooth – he has the footwork and glove work down, too.”
The skill set displayed on the diamond by the athletic senior has caught the attention of Old Dominion University, who will need a third baseman next season.
“They told me they are very interested,” said Gillus. “We’re going to keep lines of communication open and they’re going to keep coming to my games.”
Gillus visited Old Dominion weekend before last and got a chance to see the Monarchs face East Carolina and former teammate Bryce Harman. During the game Harman hit his team-leading fourth home run.
This recruiting has come in addition to a football scholarship offer from Fairmont State University (West Virginia) and interest from Christopher Newport University. A pair of former Skyhawk linebackers will suit up for those teams in the fall – Jaylan Lassiter (2014) and Justin Palimore (2013) respectively.
Gillus’ football career started early as well, but a broken ankle at age nine caused him to take a break before picking it back up again in the eighth grade. In addition to linebacker, Gillus played fullback and has put together a solid career at Bird. As a junior he was selected to the All-Dominion District second team and during his senior season he received All-Conference and Region honors. In two seasons that were limited to some extent by injury, he totaled 118 tackles, two sacks and an interception.
The senior is now focused on baseball, and proving that he belongs at the next level. The Skyhawks are 5-3 as of press time after defeating conference 12 foe Matoaca.
Gillus and fellow senior Logan Mills will lead the Skyhawks down the stretch into the conference 12 tournament, honing his skills along the way. Gillus will also look to finish strongly in the classroom, where he is an A/B student.
“I’ve told college coaches and I’ll tell anyone this,” said Wagner. “I don’t think Darius has tapped into his full baseball potential,” he explained. “Most kids at this level have more baseball under their belts with fall ball and travel ball.”
It would appear that Gillus belongs on the diamond at the next level, and the two-sport standout has the discipline and skill needed to achieve that goal. Follow Darius, the Skyhawks and all other spring sports action daily on twitter @VNewsSports.