LSU Football Freshman Tight End Arik Gilbert Will Make an Impact With Tigers From the Very Start

Brian Smith

With spring practice taken away, and all those repetitions between quarterbacks and the pass catchers not available, LSU’s highest ranked recruit could still be a pivotal part of the 2020 LSU offense.

Sometimes athletes just need to make a play. A sack, an interception, a great block, or the perfect pass. Sometimes those players make plays at positions their bodies do not seem to fit. LSU signed the most unique prospect in the entire 2020 recruiting class, and he’s coming to the bayou from Georgia.

During an October trip to famed Gwinnett County just east of Atlanta, one of the most fertile recruiting grounds in the country, multiple coaches and recruits told stories of Arik Gilbert. He lived just north of Atlanta and played for Marietta (Ga.) High School. The look on one head high school coach’s face as he slowly turned towards me was one of sheer dread. Truthfully, it was a little eerie.

Certainly no high school team could match up with Gilbert, and it will be difficult for college programs to successfully do the same. How could any team remotely prepare for Gilbert’s size at the position?

There’s never truly been a 250-pound wide receiver. Although listed as a tight end, there’s also little doubt that Gilbert plays like a wide receiver. Regardless of what one calls Gilbert, he’s spectacular. The Peach State standout could be the final ingredient to LSU’s 2020 offense being really good.

Why? Sometimes it’s all about the athlete. Here’s a look at the type of plays that do not require sheer practice time with quarterback and wide receiver needing hundreds of repetitions just to begin to get a feel for one another.

During this first clip, several things to watch. First, Gilbert calmly sets up as the running back. After the snap, he routinely steps up, pivots, and he’s ready to catch the pass. Sounds simple, yes? Well, that’s not the case for most big guys getting a rare chance to play in the backfield.

Gilbert made it look easy. Comfortable. That’s key. After the catch, Gilbert quickly navigated through traffic, with the proverbial bulldozer maneuver of running through an arm tackle before out running players that weigh 50 to 70 pounds less than him. This play is spectacular!

This next play signifies why raw talent matters. Perhaps more than any other play from this group of clips, Gilbert displayed his full potential. Doubt covered, the free safety waited back, while the cornerback standing directly behind Gilbert did the same. Did not matter. Gilbert proved to be the better player.

This third play displays Gilbert’s truly elite athleticism; he changes speed like a 5-10, 175-pound slot wide receiver. Notice right when Gilbert receives the ball, he goes from an upright easy-going posture to immediately jumping into hyperdrive. It’s not fair for a player that size to change speed that quickly.

This final play displays sheer speed. Not sure I’ve ever seen a 6-foot-5, 250-pound player accelerate quite like this as a mere high school player. Not to mention, how many defensive backs want to get in front of that mass of humanity after it gets moving?

Overall, Gilbert proved to be one of the most exciting prospects during recent years. He’s long, lean, athletic, fast, twitchy and possesses good hands. There’s no reason to believe that LSU’s offensive brass will not find a way to allow Gilbert to become an integral part of the offense from early in the 2020 season and beyond. He’s too good to sit on the bench. Simple plays with Gilbert end up being big gains. Get the young man the football.

LSU fans are in for a treat for the next three years. Then, the NFL can figure it out from there.

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