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Nation’s No. 1 TE Heads to LSU, But No One Saw It Coming
Screenshot from YouTube: 11Alive

Marietta High School tight end Arik Gilbert was heralded as the most important high school prospect at his position in recent memory. 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.

“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.

Arik Gilbert Recruiting

  • Alabama Crimson Tide
  • Clemson Tigers
  • Georgia Bulldogs
  • LSU Tigers
  • Texas A&M Aggies

Listed as an “athlete,” the 6-foot-5 and 253-pound senior is the real deal. 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 for good measure.

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 makes him the highest-ranked tight end in history.

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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, is 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 commits 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.

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As it turns out, LSU’s meteoric rise in 2019 would continue with another, five-star recruit.

5-Star TE Arik Gilbert Commits to LSU

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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 reaching the College Football Playoff National Championship Game against Clemson, Gilbert’s arrival in Baton Rouge means the Tigers’ prolific offense under coach Ed Orgeron should be re-tooled for another season in 2020.

This article was originally published October 23, 2019.

MORE: Nation’s Top Junior WR Narrows List to 7 Schools

John Duffley About the author:
John joins the FanBuzz team with five years of experience freelancing as a sports writer for TheDupes.net and Football.com. A graduate of Penn State University, John currently lives and works in Austin, Texas. He is also a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
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