Former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert was heralded as the most important high school prospect at his position in recent memory coming out of Marietta High School. Look no further than what 247Sports Director of Scouting Barton Simmons said about the unanimous No. 1 tight end in the country by every major recruiting website in 2019.
"Gilbert is a remarkable prospect because he is just so complete," Simmons said. "His versatility really and overwhelming physical traits make him the most complete tight end we've seen in more than a decade."
The Marietta, Georgia standout announced his final five teams about 24 hours before he committed at the All-American Bowl jersey ceremony on October 23, 2019. The eyes of the college football world fell on five teams that, to really no surprise, are among the elite destinations in the America.
Gilbert's time at LSU didn't last long, though, and he's on to a new SEC team.
Arik Gilbert Recruitment
Arik Gilbert shocks everyone and commits to LSU pic.twitter.com/U6n2yujk8T
— Joel Joseph (@_JoelJoseph_) October 24, 2019
- Alabama Crimson Tide
- Clemson Tigers
- Georgia Bulldogs
- LSU Tigers
- Texas A&M Aggies
Gilbert was listed as an "athlete" standing 6-foot-5 and 253 pounds as a senior in high school. His in-line blocking is outstanding. He catches like a wide receiver and runs like an 18-wheeler. He's powerful, smart in space and nearly impossible to defend near the goal line.
The MaxPreps Junior All-American caught 88 passes for 1,210 yards and 14 touchdowns on offense, then added 64 tackles and two forced fumbles as a defensive end and linebacker at Marietta High for good measure.
He was even named the 2020 Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year after leading the Marietta Blue Devils to the school's first Georgia state championship in 52 years. He put up a stat line that blows my mind -- 105 catches for 1,860 yards and 15 touchdowns -- Georgia's Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year was a no-brainer.
Congratulations to @paigebueckers1 and @arik_gilbert, the 2020 @Gatorade Athletes of the Year! #GatoradePOY https://t.co/nMcpgSR3tJ pic.twitter.com/r44Fv5m9rt
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) July 24, 2020
According to the 247Sports Composite score, which takes into account the "rankings" and "ratings" of every major recruiting service based on a 1.0000 max score, Arik Gilbert's 0.9956 composite made him the highest-ranked tight end in history. Yes, seriously.
That list includes names like Greg Olsen, Martellus Bennett and O.J. Howard.
Arik Gilbert Highlights
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The highly-touted TE held offers from more than 25 FBS programs, including Auburn, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State and USC. Gilbert's high school teammate, four-star quarterback Harrison Bailey, was committed to the University of Tennessee. The Vols also offered Gilbert a scholarship.
College football fans, especially in the SEC, were watching closely to see where Gilbert committed because his arrival would be the most important addition to their rosters for the foreseeable future.
But where would the nation's No. 1 tight end land? According to 247Sports, Alabama and head coach Nick Saban were the heavy favorites, especially with the addition of five-star quarterback Bryce Young to the team's 2020 recruiting class. However, Georgia and Kirby Smart were close on Alabama's heels, and there was one important thing that made Gilbert's timely decision even more worth watching.
Gilbert's official visit to the University of Georgia in Athens came the weekend before he decided to commit.
Clemson and LSU were the only schools that did not receive an official visit from Gilbert and his family, but you can never count out Dabo Swinney or Ed Orgeron's top-tier programs.
LSU's meteoric rise in 2019 helped reel in another five-star recruit.
Arik Gilbert LSU
During his announcement, Arik Gilbert shocked everyone when he picked up the purple and gold hat and verbally committed to join Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers.
Gilbert said that LSU "felt like a family," and he loved what Coach Orgeron was building in Baton Rouge, especially with the addition of Joe Brady to the offensive staff. He added that none of his family knew about his choice, and he was looking forward to shocking the college football world.
"Yeah, it was planned," Gilbert said with a smile.
Even with LSU football winning the College Football Playoff National Championship Game over Clemson that year, Gilbert's arrival in Baton Rouge meant the Tigers' prolific offense under coach Ed Orgeron should have been re-tooled for another season in 2020.
LSU underwhelmed in a season plagued by the coronavirus pandemic and Gilbert was ready to get out of Baton Rouge after catching 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns.
Arik Gilbert Transferring to Georgia
????????: Arik Gilbert has announced he is transferring to Georgia, per @Mansell247
#2 ranked tight end returning to school in 2021 pic.twitter.com/nPKTFafk7v
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 1, 2021
Gilbert is coming home.
The former LSU tight end originally announced he was going to transfer to Florida after the season, but he told 247Sports on June 1 he was transferring to Kirby Smart's program. That's right, the Bulldogs have landed the (former) highest-ranked tight end in 247sports history.
"Coming home, I believe it was a smart decision to come home. I wanted to be with and near my family," Gilbert told 247Sports. "I have been missing all of family and now both of my grandmothers will be able see me play in person too."
"We are about to have weapons all over the field."
At 6-foot-5, Gilbert has incredible height and speed to become a playmaker for Smart's offense. If Georgia can use him the way he should be used, the Bulldogs will have the College Football Playoff in their sights.
This post was originally published on October 23, 2019 but has been updated.
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