Going In-Depth: Arik Gilbert's potential at UGA
(Photo: Arik Gilbert’s Twitter)
Georgia’s offense got a whole lot more dynamic on Monday when former LSU tight end Arik Gilbert announced he would be transferring to Athens.
Gilbert, who is a 6-foot-5, 245-pound pass-catcher from Marietta, hauled in 35 receptions for 358 yards and two touchdowns this past season while in Baton Rouge.
In comparison, four different Georgia tight ends combined to catch 24 passes for 381 yards and two scores last season. Despite Tre’ McKitty moving onto the NFL, the Bulldogs are stacked at the tight end position with sophomore Darnell Washington, redshirt junior John FitzPatrick and freshman Brock Bowers.
So, that brings up this question: How will Arik Gilbert fit into Georgia’s offensive scheme?
DogWatch’s Brian Butcher predicted once the news broke that Gilbert was recruited to Georgia as a wide receiver, and that seems to be the case, per a report by Mike Griffith of DawgNation.
With George Pickens out with an ACL injury, Gilbert was brought in to help mend some of the attrition at the wide receiver position.
The Marietta native has a lot of athletic ability, so it would only be fitting for the UGA coaching staff to make that pitch to him. Not saying he will take over in Pickens’ absence, but he will more than likely help out in a big way and answer some unsolved questions about the offense heading into next season.
Gilbert could be used as a hybrid receiver and similarly to how Florida used first-round talent Kyle Pitts last season.
Gilbert has the intangibles of playing at the “X” spot, which is where Pickens has played over the last two years. His size and speed will give Georgia quarterback J.T. Daniels another great option to throw to on a daily basis.
Sophomore wideout Jermaine Burton will more than likely remain at the “Z” position, while senior Kearis Jackson stays in the slot. The Bulldogs also have a few more options at wide receiver in Arian Smith, Justin Robinson, Ladd McConkey, Dominick Blaylock, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint and Adonai Mitchell. So, with Gilbert potentially at the “X” spot, a lot of pressure will be taken off him because of the talent Georgia has at both wide receiver and tight end.
Look for Gilbert to be a mismatch in one-on-one situations, which creates a chance for him to haul in 50-50 balls. He could also be used in red-zone situations where he has a clear size advantage on a cornerback or linebacker. Having a nearly 250-pound frame, Gilbert makes for an ideal blocker in-between the tackles or outside on the perimeter, too.
Gilbert showed last year how good of a route runner he was, despite not participating in spring drills at LSU due to COVID-19. His 40-yard dash time is 4.73, which isn’t breaking the sound barrier, but last season he seemed to do alright in the ten games he appeared in. Gilbert’s physical presence on the field should intimidate defenders, especially because he’s going to be used as a wide receiver and could take some reps at tight end.
Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken likes to use a lot of two-tight end sets, so imagine the damage that could be done with both Gilbert and Washington on the field at the same time.
“You can never have enough good tight ends in the SEC because they are big, they are athletic, and they can catch the ball,” Smart said, per Bulldawg Illustrated. “There are so many things they can do, it’s one of those things we want as many as we can get, and we want to get the ball. Coach (Todd) Monken really likes using multiple tight end sets, it is done a lot in the NFL. You can mismatch people and have the ability to run the ball, and then also flex them out and throw the ball. It’s really frustrating to defend.”
Gilbert is a huge addition to Georgia’s offense and he could have a huge impact on the team. His physical capabilities are through the roof and the potential for Georgia’s offense with him in it is endless. Now, that Gilbert is expected to join the team soon, look for him to start building a rapport with Daniels and the other offensive weapons the Bulldogs have in their arsenal.