It's not everyday that a program is able to bring in a unique talent like Arik Gilbert. The way the Marrietta, Ga., native has been described by teammates and coaches alike has been nothing short of glowing—which also means there are high expectations for him to produce at an elite level.
LSU linebacker Jabril Cox turned quite a few heads Thursday when meeting with media members for the first time as a Tiger. Cox is a veteran, national champion and All-American at the FCS level and admits he's never seen a talent quite like Gilbert's.
"I've lined up in the slot against him a couple of times and he's a big target and fast as well," Cox said. "My first impression right off the bat is he has a "Megatron" [Calvin Johnson] kind of build. Just seeing him, he's gonna try and run you over but he also has the moves to juke you.
"The ceiling for him is so high and if he continues to get better he can be the best tight end to ever play college football. It's all up to him and his hard work but Arik Gilbert is gonna be a special one."
Those are strong sentiments for an 18-year-old who has yet to take a snap in college football. Clearly the talent jumps off the film and joining an offensive mind in Steve Ensminger who's now had a year with the spread offense will only help Gilbert reach those lofty expectations Cox alluded to.
With the loss of star receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Gilbert will be tasked with carrying a heavier work load on offense. During the team's first preseason scrimmage, Gilbert brought in two touchdown receptions, one of which included rumbling through two LSU defensive backs on his way to the endzone.
A few weeks ago, quarterback Myles Brennan and safety JaCoby Stevens were very impressed with Gilbert and his stellar start to fall camp. The two mirrored much of what Cox said with Brennan saying the team was "very, very grateful" to have him on board.
Receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. will be tasked with a role similar to Gilbert's as he'll now be the No. 1 receiver and demand plenty of attention from opposing defenses. Marshall has spent the last few months locking down that chemistry with Brennan, Gilbert and the rest of the receiving corps and said the physical measurements Gilbert possesses are jaw dropping.
"My first impression was that he's eye candy," Marshall said. "He's 6-foot-5, 200 and something pounds, I don’t even wanna know. But he's a freak of nature and I'm very excited to see him on the field."