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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
5-star TE Arik Gilbert had a surprise for everyone, including LSU, with his choice on Wednesday.

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

Want to attack every day with the latest UGA football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel brings. The play sheet today calls for a final lap around the recruiting of 5-star Georgia TE prospect Arik Gilbert

Arik Gilbert woke up a full-fledged LSU Tiger today.

There was no holding back a Tiger anymore after his announcement from the College Football Hall of Fame in downtown Atlanta. 

Gilbert and his family were deeply grateful to the Georgia fan base for their support since the baby steps of his recruiting process in the summer of 2016. They felt the love. Even said so over and over in a variety of ways.

But in the end, Gilbert was trending away to LSU for quite some time. The recruiting industry just didn’t peg it, though. The Marietta High senior (Marietta, Ga.) was feeling Ed Orgeron’s program even before he went into that night game for the big Florida win in Death Valley.

It was a perfect official visit. Every box was checked. Big-time.

“I kind of had that feeling [about LSU] before that,” he said on Wednesday. “But that solidified it.”

Consider it a gumbo of feelings: The electricity in the crowd. Listening to what Coach O had to say and the way he said it. Seeing that offense in full. Its ability to get the ball out on the edges in space. Finding the creases in coverage. Creative ways to get tight ends, flex ends and big receivers the ball.

The current momentum of the LSU program, fueled by the high octane in that offense, was the final special ingredient, too. New passing game coordinator and WRs coach Joe Brady supplied the hot sauce, too.

“The offense was changing up to this year with coach [Joe] Brady coming in,” Gilbert said. “He’s way smart.”

He felt something when he was in Baton Rouge. Saw it, too. His eyes proved to be the only set that really mattered.

“The most important thing to me was even if I wasn’t playing football I could go to that school,” he said. “Out of all my other choices, I would go to that school.”

Why?

“The culture of that school and just walking around that campus is way amazing,” he said. “It was just different.”

Arik Gilbert-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Arik Gilbert will play for Ed Orgeron’s Tigers. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

Arik Gilbert: Why not UGA? 

Why wasn’t it Georgia? When did his head start to turn away from Georgia? We’ll cover that and add some finality to the recruiting storyline of the nation’s No. 1 TE and No. 10 overall prospect (247Sports Composite) for 2020.

When a prospect feels a certain way about a school, it is hard for anything else to off-set that. No matter the love from DawgNation. Or the home stage tug.

“It was still really hard to say no to Georgia,” he said. “But I just think that I’m not really a good fit for the school.”

They have to feel it. Gilbert just did not get that down the stretch with UGA.

Fans can point to the offense. The recent hiccups of 2019. The utilization of the tight end position to flex to more of the concepts employed the NFL coordinators these days.

It wasn’t the offense here.

“Just personally,” he said when asked to describe why it was not a good fit. “It just doesn’t feel the same as when I was at LSU. Just that. If that makes sense.”

The 6-foot-5, 255-pound senior said he knew for sure after his final official visit to UGA.

“After my Georgia visit, it was just clear,” he said. “I just knew.”

The race for second place is usually inconsequential with decisions like this, but Gilbert felt it would be tough to decipher whether Alabama or Georgia came in second.

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

Gilbert will enroll early. It is more likely for a coaching staff to cover him on a corner route than it will be to get him to flip.

He’s taking a stout high school resume and scouting reputation to The Pelican State for likely three years. He’s done all this for Marietta High in 31 games:

  • 186 career catches
  • 2,618 yards
  • 14.1 yards per reception
  • 27 TDs
  • 85 receiving yards per game
  • Gilbert has 44 catches for 838 yards and six catches in 2019. That’s 19 yards per reception.

He’s been unguardable for basically the past two seasons given his frame and the way he runs routes fit for a teaching tape for the position.

Arik Gilbert-Georgia recruiting-UGA recruiting
Arik Gilbert becomes the third prospect with a 5-star rating in the 2020 class for LSU. He’s now the highest-rated commitment on the board for the Tigers. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

2020 cycle: What’s next for UGA at the tight end spot

The tight end spot is now the biggest remaining priority for UGA in the 2020 class. Charlie Woerner and Eli Wolf will no more eligibility left after this season.

It will leave the Bulldogs with just three scholarship tight ends on the roster. That’s redshirt freshman John FitzPatrick (1 career catch for 22 yards) and true freshmen Ryland Goede and Brett Seither.

Seither is the most explosive athlete of the bunch, but the room needs more athletic playmakers that can shed man coverage and quickly separate from clingy safeties and linebackers.

That room needs an Arik Gilbert. Hard-charging tight ends coach Todd Hartley is working to secure two other Gilbert types for this class.

The Georgia tight end board for 2020 now looks like:

 

Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap.

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