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Former 5-star tight end Arik Gilbert announces he’s transferring to Florida

Former 5-star tight end Arik Gilbert has made his decision as to where he will be playing football in the 2021 season.

The talented tight end announced that he will be playing for the Florida Gators. Gilbert, who spent this past season at LSU, announced the decision in a tweet.

“This is the best situation for me and I’m excited to join the family,” Gilbert wrote.

Gilbert announced earlier in January that he had entered the transfer portal after he opted out of LSU’s final two games of the 2020 season. As a freshman, Gilbert caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers.

Related: Former 5-star Georgia recruiting target Arik Gilbert enters transfer portal

Georgia had been mentioned as a possible landing spot for Gilbert, as he is from Marietta, Ga. But the Gators also had a strong sales pitch following the success Kyle Pitts had this past season. Pitts caught 43 passes for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games for the Gators. He won the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top tight end, was named a First Team All-American and will very likely be a first-round draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

While playing at Florida, Gilbert will now play against Georgia on an annual basis along with LSU, as the Gators are Florida’s cross-division rival.

As for Georgia, the Bulldogs aren’t exactly lacking talent at the position. The Bulldogs had their own 5-star freshman in 2020 as Darnell Washington became a bigger piece of the offense as the season went along. He finished the 2020 season catching five passes for 105 yards in the final two games of the season. The Bulldogs also signed 4-star tight end Brock Bowers in the 2021 signing class. Bowers is already on campus and impressing in winter workouts.

The Gators will lose their top three wide receivers from the 2020 team, while Georgia brings back top pass catchers in terms of yardage. Georgia will also look to get more out of players like Dominick Blaylock, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Arian Smith, who all missed parts of the 2020 season due to injury.

Play caller and offensive coordinator Todd Monken spoke about some of the challenges of spreading the ball around on offense when you have so many dynamic options prior to Georgia’s Peach Bowl win.

“You’re hopeful we have enough skill players that they have to defend the whole field, and all the players on the field are capable of making plays, which is a sign of a really good offense,” Monken said. “The best offenses have that in terms of weapons, tight ends, wideouts, and running backs, which gives you the opportunity to take advantage of mismatches and make them defend the field.”

Related: ‘Unbelievable upside’: What to make of late-season surge for tight end Darnell Washington

It is not yet guaranteed that Gilbert will be playing for Florida in 2020, as the NCAA is yet to amend its transfer rules to allow for a one-time transfer. Furthermore, the SEC will still have its own intraconference rule on transfers that will need to be amended if Gilbert is to play at Florida in 2021.

The SEC mandates that anyone who transfers within the conference must sit out at a season, even if granted eligibility by the NCAA. The league waived that rule for the 2020 season, with the pandemic being the reason why.

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