Here's the moment @arik_gilbert committed to #LSU -- watch his dad's reaction on the far right. Told us afterward no one in his family knew, including his parents. #Alabama and #UGA widely reported to be the favorites, which Arik was just fine with. pic.twitter.com/ez1uLuH8Ff— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) October 23, 2019
That LOOK of shock. Literally no one knew Arik Gilbert was picking #LSU, not even his family. My favorite photo by @RivalsWoody. pic.twitter.com/m6ezsiNqbH— Julie Boudwin (@Julie_Boudwin) October 23, 2019
I’ll admit it: I didn’t watch Arik Gilbert’s live announcement. Everyone in their right mind had signed this one off to Alabama, so I wasn’t about to sit down and watch another recruit, this time the 6’5”, 253 lb. top tight end in the nation, put on that crimson-colored hat and add a little heartbreak to my Wednesday.
I went about my normal afternoon, getting in my post-work workout before getting food that likely canceled out said workout and settling down in my chair to eat when my phone blew up with notifications that caused me to drop it to the floor. I was shocked, amazed and even did a little dance before finishing off dinner and going back to watch the announcement as if there was still suspense there.
5-star recruit @arik_gilbert out of @MHSFBFAMILY pulled off the rarest feat in high school recruiting ... he totally surprised people. Including mom and dad. Here's the story of how he kept his #LSU decision a secret now that the Tiger's out of the bag. 247's #1 TE in c/o 2020 pic.twitter.com/zA2kIr9gmz— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) October 23, 2019
The surprise commitment shocked the entire recruiting world, and the hiring of Joe Brady adds yet another notch on the wall of this 30-year-old passing game coordinator in his short time since taking his job with LSU.
According to 247, Arik Gilbert would rank as the highest-rated tight end recruit, dating back to 2000. His current .9956 composite ranking would put him above that of Greg Olsen’s .9944 composite score. Not only that, but Gilbert currently stands as a top-10 recruit in the nation...as a TIGHT END. His position is one that does not normally rank that highly among every recruit, which just goes to show the type of talent Gilbert brings, which you will see...right here:
Gilbert is making me feel like I’m at confession again because I’ll admit another thing: I never watched his highlights until today. Even with the official visit, I didn’t want to get excited watching his clips only to see him go to some SEC rival. Now, I’m finally able to sit here and enjoy these videos, thinking that Joe Brady is going to go home after work, get on YouTube and watch Gilbert highlights all giddy like a kid on Christmas Eve.
You are just not supposed to be able to do the things that Gilbert does at that size. He’s running post routes split out wide like a receiver before hauling in a leaping catch ala Gronkowski in his heyday. His agility is that of a wide receiver, allowing him to out-run defensive backs down the field and cutting every which way to find space from the defenders.
Obviously, getting someone of Gilbert’s caliber is beyond huge, and can be directly attributed to Joe Brady and what he’s been able to do with Stephen Sullivan and Thaddeus Moss. Gilbert saw the tight can be split out wide and become an integral part of this newfound offense. While LSU is set at QB for the 2020 class in Max Johnson and TJ Finley, don’t be surprised for a second if this further helps attract future QBs from giving LSU an even stronger look going forward.
Another thing this shows is (no pun intended) a tide beginning to shift, at least on the offensive side. Like I mentioned earlier, it seemed like a foregone conclusion he was Alabama bound, but to steal one right out of their grasp shows the Tigers are inching closer to regaining that top spot in the SEC pecking order. Earn a win over Auburn and Alabama in the coming weeks and this may erupt like a fuming volcano. A huge pickup for the offense, an exciting moment for an LSU fan, and yet one more thing to continue to build on under the tenure of Coach Orgeron.