“X” marks spot where Arik Gilbert could set tone in Georgia football offense

Arik Gilbert-Florida-decommit
LSU tight end Arik Gilbert (2) against Arkansas during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

ATHENS — The Georgia football offense will be a whole lot more dangerous with Arik Gilbert on the field.

Gilbert, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound pass-catching machine, is transferring out of LSU after catching 35 passes for 368 yards and 2 TDs in eight games as a tight end last season.

At Georgia, however, Gilbert is being brought in to play receiver.

More specifically, the 2019 Georgia Gatorade High School Player of the Year will be looked at to be the answer at the “X,” formerly played by George Pickens.

UGA made a run at Gilbert immediately after he had entered the NCAA transfer portal.

The Bulldogs were upfront with the LSU transfer at the time that Pickens would be the primary target.

RELATED: Georgia couldn’t make promises that Arik Gilbert needed to hear in January

Gilbert later committed to Florida — and de-committed four weeks later — entering his name back in the portal.

RELATED: Arik Gilbert’s roller-coaster offseason circling back to Georgia

Fast forward to March, when Pickens suffered a torn ACL in practice that will keep him out indefinitely, and Georgia was back in play.

“Being brought in to play wide receiver, I definitely think I can help the team win,” Gilbert told 247Sports.

“Nothing is going to be given to me, so I am ready to get there and get to work with the team. "

UGA runs a Pro-Style Spread offense with Air Raid concepts. The defensive alignment -- what the defense is “giving” -- often dictates where QB JT Daniels will go with the ball.

But Gilbert has the same sort of ability to high point the ball and come down with the 50-50 catches as Pickens, so it’s a safe bet he’ll be a prime target no matter where he lines up.

Georgia second-year freshman Justin Robinson (6-4, 220) and incoming freshman Adonai Mitchell (6-4, 190) are also competing at the X position.

Robinson and Mitchell recently returned from California, where they were among the UGA pass catchers spending time with Daniels during the spring semester break.

Mitchell and Jermaine Burton were two of the last UGA players to leave California during the break, apparently looking to squeeze out every bit of extra work.

RELATED: 3 things from JT Daniels’ California break with teammates

Gilbert hasn’t played since LSU’s 55-17 loss to Alabama on Dec. 5, catching 5 passes for 29 yards in that contest.

News reports cited Gilbert’s homesickness as the reason he was leaving the Tigers’ program at the time, and he verified that on Tuesday.

“I have been missing all of family,” Gilbert said, “and now both of my Grandmothers will be able see me play in person too.”

LSU fans understand how it works, having gained the services of former Georgia safety Major Burns through the transfer portal earlier this offseason.

Burns, like Gilbert, was homesick.

The University of Georgia has not yet publicly commented on Gilbert’s status with the program.

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