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Arik Gilbert Showing Progress But Still "Not Where He Needs To Be"

April 18, 2022
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ATHENS - The 2022 G-Day scrimmage was a special one for a lot of Georgia Bulldogs, but it’s hard to find someone who had a better day than Arik Gilbert.

Everyone knows the story by now. 

Gilbert was a big, shiny 5-star prospect out of Marietta High School in the 2020 class and was one of the top overall prospects in the country. After a record-breaking senior season where he helped lead the Blue Devils to a state championship, Gilbert signed with the LSU Tigers over Georgia, Alabama, among others.

After a tough time in Baton Rouge, Gilbert transferred to Georgia in June of 2021 but missed all of last fall for a number of different reasons. Now, playing as a wide receiver, Gilbert appears to be happy, and he’s done an excellent job of getting back into football shape and has dropped some much-needed weight this spring.

He’s starting to look like the 5-star All-American he was out of high school as he reeled in two touchdowns during Georgia’s G-Day scrimmage over the weekend.

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart applauded Gilbert’s effort after the scrimmage.

“Yeah, Arik is a really tough, physical player that's done a good job”, Smart said to reporters.  “I'm more proud of the practices he had leading up to today than today.  Today was a little bit icing on the cake.  He got some good breaks.  He had a ball that I think Stetson was throwing away that he ended up making a play on.”


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While it’s clear Gilbert has come a long way in the past 10 months, Smart noted that he still isn’t where he needs to be to be the best player he can be.

“He's not where he needs to be, either”, Smart added. “There were two missed assignments where he didn't block a guy that in the run game could kill us.  We get tackles for loss and we end up not blocking a guy.  He didn't really have those kind of plays during the spring, but his conditioning level has got to continue to improve.  He lost a lot of weight, but just what he's been through and overcome is such a great story, but he's not where he needs to be.  He'll be the first to tell you he's got to continue to grow, to get in shape, to change his body, and he can get an opportunity to help us.  With the two other guys we've got coming back, it makes it a luxury of those guys being able to make us a special football team.”

A big-bodied wide receiver, Gilbert showed good hands and the ability to come down with the ball in traffic. If he can continue to drop weight, stay in shape, and stay the course, Gilbert could have a bigger impact in 2022 than we would’ve thought a couple months ago.

The Bulldogs are loaded at tight end, and Gilbert can help there eventually if he can continue working on his blocking in the run game, but big picture, he’s a pass-catcher. That’s what he does best. It won’t be easy to see playing time at receiver with multiple veteran guys ahead of him, but if Gilbert can become the player we thought he could be three years ago, he’ll absolutely be able to help Georgia this fall.

The former 5-star had a big spring, and now his job is to continue working so he can have a big fall. If he continues to push himself over the next five months, 2022 could be a special season for Arik Gilbert.
 

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