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Posted on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.

Ex-Eastern Michigan QB owes shot at NFL to abysmal senior year

By Pete Cunningham


Former Eastern Michigan quarterback Alex Gillett, left, is trying out for the Green Bay Packers at wide receiver.

Associated Press

Alex Gillett couldn’t keep his job as the starting quarterback for the Eastern Michigan football team as a senior. He has a shot at an NFL career because of it.

Gillett, who started at quarterback for the Eagles for most of the first three years of his college career, was benched after an 0-3 start in 2012 in favor of sophomore Tyler Benz. Gillett couldn’t stand the thought of spending his senior season watching from the sidelines, so he made the switch to wide receiver. He made three starts at wide receiver in 2012, catching 14 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. All of his receptions came in the final four games of the season.

“I got benched at quarterback and I didn’t want to sit out my senior year, so I thought where else could I help at? Receiver was kind of where it was,” Gillett told the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Gillette is now at Green Bay Packers training camp fighting for a wide receiver position. He was signed during offseason team activities (OTAs) in May more or less as a warm body for drills. But after injuries to rookies Charles Johnson and Kevin Dorsey and free-agent Sederrik Cunningham, Gillett is suddenly in the middle of a wide-open wide receiver competition at Packer minicamp.

“This is a the place that gave me an opportunity,” Gillett told the Press Gazette. “I’m just happy to have it.

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

One of the reasons the Green Bay Packers have defied the NFL's parity model for so long is that they have a front office that knows how to find and develop talent. A lot of their success comes from not only finding franchise players in the 1st-3rd rounds of the draft, but the 4th-7th rounds and also among the undrafted players. It's not perfect, but you'll notice they rarely go to free agency unless it's to add the final piece to a championship run (a la Charles Woodson). The Lions have a franchise quarterback, but it remains to be seen if they'll ever build a perpetual contender for titles like Green Bay, New England, and Pittsburgh.

Pete Cunningham

Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:53 p.m.

No offense to Alex here, I wish him the best, but a Bart Starr comparison is a huge reach. Starr came out of college as a relative unknown and was available late in the draft, but that was because of injury. Prior to being hurt, Starr was a starter at three positions for Alabama, which even then was a multiple national championship winning program.


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

detroit lions----------1957-------that's 56 years ago


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 1:39 a.m.

I think that you're right - that the Packers depend on developing talent. They see otherwise overlooked talent like Gilett, and give him a chance. It seems to work for a lot of their players, not just one or two, which seems to support the reason why the Packers are consistently successful. One particular guy they did this for a long time ago was named Starr.


Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 11:56 p.m.

What I mean to say about that as it relates to this article is that, if Alex Gillett found himself on Green Bay's training camp roster, then it's entirely conceivable he can actually play in the NFL.

Pete Cunningham

Mon, Jul 29, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

This Green Bay Press Gazette article is the first in a series the paper/website is doing called "Getting to Know" which will run throughout training camp in order to introduce fans to rookies, un-drafted players and free-agents the Packers added this off-season. When I saw that Gillett was the first in the series, my inclination was that the writer is telling Gillett's interesting story as soon as possible because he thinks he won't be there for very long. That's pure speculation on my part. Maybe the writer wants to tell Gillett's story first because he thinks Alex has a chance at making it and wants to chronicle it from beginning to end. What do you think?


Tue, Jul 30, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

Alphabetically, by first name. I mean, cuz fans already know the QB with a first name of Aaron.