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Arik Gilbert opted out of the 2020 season.

LSU tight end Arik Gilbert opts out of season, no decision on transferring yet

Another LSU player has opted out of the 2020 season, as LSU coach Ed Orgeron announced that tight end Arik Gilbert will not be playing for LSU for the rest of the season.

“Arik and I had a good conversation yesterday. He told me he was opting out,” Orgeron said on the SEC coaches teleconference call. “He said his body was hurting and he had some things he had to take care of.”

As for whether or not Gilbert will transfer from the program, as has been speculated about, no decision has been made on that to this point. Orgeron added that he hopes to have Gilbert return to the LSU team for next season.

“Do I think we have a chance at getting him back next season? Yeah,” Orgeron said. “Is there a chance of him transferring? I don’t know that. He hasn’t told me he’s transferring, but obviously we’re going to re-recruit him and obviously we wish him the best.”

On Monday, multiple outlets reported that Gilbert was considering transferring out of the program, just a year after signing with the Tigers as 5-star recruit. 247Sports reported that Gilbert was “really, really homesick.”

Gilbert is from Marietta, Ga., where he shined as a top high school recruit. He was named the National Gatorade Player of the Year after he led Marietta High School to a state championship in Georgia’s highest classification. Gilbert also earned the honor of being the highest-ranked tight end prospect since they began ranking recruits in the early 2000s.

Georgia was very much a factor in his recruitment, as Gilbert made multiple visits to Athens before picking the Tigers. Alabama actually finished second in his recruitment when Gilbert decided to commit in October of 2019.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart spoke about what recruiting through the transfer portal is like, especially with players he has had a prior relationship with such as Gilbert.

“The portal is just a public way of saying, ‘I’m a free agent.’ The way we recruit is the way we recruit,” Smart said. “If they choose to go in the portal, great. If there are kids in the portal that we had relationships with, then we’re going to communicate with them if they are interested. It hasn’t changed the way we have recruited.”

When Gilbert committed to LSU the first time around, he explained why he did not end up picking the home-state Bulldogs.

“I think that Georgia really did a great job of recruiting me honestly,” Gilbert said in October of 2019. “I just didn’t feel it.”

Related: Arik Gilbert: The two big reasons why he’s leaving Georgia to play for LSU

Clemson and Tennessee were also factors in his recruitment the first time around. Georgia signed another 5-star tight end prospect in the 2020 recruiting cycle, as it landed Darnell Washington. He has two catches for 59 yards this year.

As a freshman, Gilbert caught 35 passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns. Gilbert becomes the seventh member of LSU’s 2020 team to opt-out of the season. LSU is coming off a 55-17 loss to Alabama, dropping the defending champions to 3-5 on the season. LSU is set to play Florida this weekend.

Orgeron did say that freshman defensive end BJ Ojulari will play for LSU this weekend. Ojulari also played for Marietta High School and is the brother of Georgia outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari.

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