Five-star TE Arik Gilbert commits to Florida: LSU transfer becomes huge weapon for Gators

By Adam Silverstein
January 31, 2021
Five-star TE Arik Gilbert commits to Florida: LSU transfer becomes huge weapon for Gators
Football

Image Credit: Andrew Wevers / LSU

With the Florida Gators set to close out their Class of 2021 this Wednesday on National Signing Day, the program received one of its biggest commitments Sunday from a player who was actually part of the Class of 2020. Five-star tight end Arik Gilbert (Marietta, GA) announced that he has decided to transfer from LSU to Florida after choosing to leave the Tigers program this offseason.

Gilbert (6-foot-5, 253 pounds) was the No. 5 overall player in the nation during last year’s recruiting cycle. He caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns in eight games last season, but his talent and extremely high ceiling was noticeable throughout the 2020 campaign.

“After careful consideration I have decided to commit to the University of Florida,” Gilbert announced on Twitter. “This is the best situation for me and I’m excited to join the family.”

Head coach Dan Mullen featuring TE Kyle Pitts as the Gators’ premier offensive weapon undoubtedly played a role in landing Gilbert, who projects as a future first-round pick in the NFL Draft if he continues his ascension over the next two years. Pitts, who won the 2020 Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end, caught 43 balls for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns despite playing just 7.5 games last season.

With all college athletes granted an additional year of eligibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilbert has four seasons remaining despite transferring to the program as a true sophomore. However, as the NCAA has not yet passed one-time transfer legislation that was expected to be ratified in January, Gilbert will be forced to seek a waiver to play immediately.

Despite choosing Florida over Georgia and Alabama, it is believed that Gilbert transfered from LSU to be closer to home. Also likely playing a role in Gilbert’s decision was Gators TE coach Tim Brewster, who helped groom Pitts and has an incredible track record of development at the position.

Florida is particularly loaded at tight end entering the 2021 season with rising redshirt senior Kemore Gamble and junior Keon Zipperer returning. The Gators also have rising sophomore Jonathan Odom back along with four-star Gage Wilcox (Tampa, FL) and three-star Nick Elksnis (Jacksonville, FL) signed in the Class of 2021.

Supplementing any shortfalls Florida has in recruiting incoming high school prospects, Mullen is arguably the nation’s best recruiter for transfers. Gilbert is the fourth five-star offensive playmaker Mullen has brought in as a transfer, joining wide receiver Justin Shorter and running backs DeMarcus Bowman and Lorenzo Lingard.

If Gilbert receives a waiver as expected, all four will be active for the 2021 season.

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