Five-star transfer TE Arik Gilbert decommits from Florida after one month pledged to Gators

By Adam Silverstein
February 28, 2021
Five-star transfer TE Arik Gilbert decommits from Florida after one month pledged to Gators

Image Credit: Andrew Wevers / LSU

The Florida Gators received massive news on Jan. 31 when five-star tight end Arik Gilbert (Marietta, GA) announced that he has decided to transfer into the program from LSU after choosing to leave the Tigers earlier this offseason. One month later, Gilbert has decided he will not remain with the Gators for the upcoming season.

Gilbert (6-foot-5, 253 pounds), the No. 5 overall player in the Class of 2020, made his announcement Sunday afternoon on Twitter. “I have decided to decommit from the university of Florida and re-enter the portal,” he wrote. “I will not be announcing my final decision until i am enrolled into school and on campus.”

He originally explained that he made his decision to join Florida “after careful consideration” because it was “the best situation for me.” It is currently unknown what led to his change of heart.

What is known is that the Gators are losing a top-tier talent who was expected to come in and be a substantial talent this season.

Due to his decision timeline, Gilbert was unable to enroll at UF for the spring semester. He was expected to sign up for summer sessions in May ahead of July workouts. It is unknown whether enrollment played a factor in his decision making.

Gilbert caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns in eight games for the Tigers last season, but his talent and extremely high ceiling was noticeable throughout the 2020 campaign.

Florida head coach Dan Mullen featuring TE Kyle Pitts as the Gators’ premier offensive weapon undoubtedly played a role in originally landing Gilbert, who projects as a future first-round pick in the NFL Draft if he continues his ascension over the next few years.

With all college athletes granted an additional year of eligibility amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Gilbert had four seasons remaining despite transferring to UF as a true sophomore. However, as the NCAA has not yet passed one-time transfer legislation that was expected to be ratified in January, Gilbert will be forced to seek a waiver to play immediately wherever he lands.

Gilbert previously chose Florida over Georgia and Alabama. It was believed that he left LSU to be closer to home.

Florida is still strong at tight end entering the 2021 season with rising redshirt senior Kemore Gamble and junior Keon Zipperer returning. The Gators also have rising sophomore Jonathan Odom back along with four-star Gage Wilcox (Tampa, FL) and three-star Nick Elksnis (Jacksonville, FL) signed in the Class of 2021.

Supplementing any shortfalls Florida has in recruiting incoming high school prospects, Mullen has arguably become the nation’s best recruiter for transfers. Gilbert was the fourth five-star offensive playmaker Mullen had brought in as a transfer, joining wide receiver Justin Shorter and running backs DeMarcus Bowman and Lorenzo Lingard. Those three will be active members of the roster in 2021.

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