Tennessee’s coaching staff has the Vols positioned well with some of the top talent in the 2020 recruiting cycle. Now, the nation’s No. 1 athlete in the 2020 class has included Tennessee in his list of top teams moving forward.
Five-star athlete Arik Gilbert plays for Marietta High School in Marietta, Georgia. He’s teammates with current Vol commit, four-star quarterback Harrison Bailey, and he was teammates with Vol wide receiver and 2019 signee Ramel Keyton. On Monday night, Gilbert tweeted out his list of top 10 schools in his recruitment, and Tennessee made the cut along with Georgia, Alabama, LSU, Penn State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Auburn, USC, and Clemson.
All praise to Lord, the most high. Rip John Rip Granddad 🙏🏾 one 🖤 4eva pic.twitter.com/sfTu2sisrR
— Arik Gilbert (@arik_gilbert) June 4, 2019
According to the 247Sports Composite rankings, Gilbert is the No. 10 overall player, No. 1 athlete, and No. 2 player in the state of Georgia in the 2020 class. The elite athlete holds offers from over two dozen schools, but he’ll be focusing his attention on the 10 programs listed in his tweet.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound two-way athlete plays both tight end and defensive end for Marietta, but he projects as a tight end in college, and that’s where he’s said he wants to play as well.
Gilbert’s most recent visit was to Knoxville on May 18th. He took an unofficial trip to Tennessee and participated in the big paintball match that UT’s coaches held with various recruits. Gilbert was there with some other high priority Tennessee targets, such as four-star in-state center Cooper Mays.
Before his trip to UT, Gilbert had stopped at Clemson, Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M from January 26th through April 3rd. Gilbert also took a visit to Knoxville for a Junior Day event on January 19th, and he visited campus in March of 2018 as well.
On offense, Gilbert is a dynamic athlete who uses his speed and power to get open and make huge plays. He was timed running a 4.83-second 40-yard dash at a regional camp for Nike’s The Opening back in late March, but he looks even quicker than that on his film. Gilbert can run good routes, and he’s shifty. He looks more like a big wide receiver rather than a tight end, so bulking up and adding some weight might be needed. But with a 35-inch vertical and solid build, he already looks college ready. He lines up at tight end and out wide for Marietta, showing off his versatility.
As a junior last season, Gilbert caught 88 passes for 1,210 yards and 14 touchdowns according to MaxPreps. On defense, he totaled 64 tackles, six tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, and two passes defended.
Gilbert has already made several trips to Knoxville during his recruitment, and he’ll likely be back again this fall. The Vols are in a good spot with him thanks to having Harrison Bailey committed and being in a good spot with another one of his teammates, four-star outside linebacker BJ Ojulari. But Georgia, Alabama, and Clemson aren’t going to be easy to fend off for his commitment.
Right now, Georgia is the leader for Gilbert, and it’s hard to see him not ending up with the Bulldogs at this rate. Georgia is also in contention for five-star tight end Darnell Washington, and it’s believed they won’t be able to take both. Tennessee also has a good relationship with Washington, so maybe the Vols can get one or the other depending on what happens with Georgia.
Gilbert doesn’t look like he’s ready to make a decision anytime particularly soon, and the longer he holds out is better for Tennessee.