Monken, Smart and teammates talk highly of Arik Gilbert
Photo by Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia wide receiver Arik Gilbert is slated to have a big season.
Nonetheless, Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator Todd Monken is excited for the former Marietta High School product to be a part of the program.
“Well I think he’s adapted well," Monken said on Thursday. "He’s a special talent because he’s in the Brock Bowers mode in that he’s athletic enough to play receiver but big enough to do some things on the interior. He’s a size match-up, he’s a run-after-catch guy. He loves to play the game. So we’re excited that he’s part of our program.”
Gilbert played tight end for LSU during the 2020 season. He hauled in 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman. However, he will more than likely play the X-position at wide receiver for the Bulldogs, which is where junior George Pickens would play. Pickens is expected to miss most of the season, so Gilbert was brought in his absence.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said during SEC Media Days that Gilbert has fit in well in Monken’s system.
“He’s a playmaker,” Smart said. “He’s a guy who you need to get the ball in his hands. He’s worked out with the wide receiver group; that’s where he indicated he wanted to work and train. That’s been a big part of what he wants to do. We’ve got to find out if he can sustain if he’s got the stamina at that position to play that position. To play the X, to play the Z, play the slot. We’ll find ways to move him around.”
The 6-foot-5, 248-pound pass-catcher has the ability to create some mismatches on the field for opposing defenders. Gilbert’s skill set will also nicely complement Georgia’s other returning offensive weapons. He not only fills in the void with Pickens’ absence but also adds to Georgia’s depth chart at wide receiver. Monken will use Gilbert in many different ways, including possibly scheming him to line up at the tight end position.
Georgia safety Lewis Cine said last week that he is buying into Gilbert’s stock.
"He's as advertised," Cine said. "He brings a whole lot to the table in terms of offense. He's big. He can move. He's a big kid and he can really move. He's a very talented guy, you know what I mean? Quiet, real quiet but he does his business. He knows what he is here for and that's pretty much it.
J.T. Daniels, who will be the one throwing passes to the former five-star, said that Gilbert “fits right in” in terms of Georgia’s offense.
“He spends a lot of time with Coach (Cortez) Hankton and Coach (Todd) Hartley,” Daniels said at SEC Media Days. “He learns stuff fast. This is a difficult offense, but he takes the time to learn it. He gets it. I don’t even need to speak about his talent—that’s obvious. But on the mental side of the game, he’s phenomenal.”
Gilbert adds another dynamic element to Georgia’s offense, which will be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Georgia tight end John FitzPatrick said last week that the offense is getting more consistent with practice.
"I would say the biggest difference would be that we have that continuity,” FitzPatrick said. “We are returning a lot of starters and a lot of great players. We brought in a great deal of freshmen. We are excited, and we are ready to make explosive plays through the passing game, through the run game. I think we are going to connect on all cylinders."
Check out Monken’s interview: