Marietta’s Arik Gilbert, one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation, committed to play for coach Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers on Wednesday.
The announcement came before Gilbert and four other Cobb County players joined other metro-Atlanta standouts in accepting their All-American Bowl jerseys in a ceremony at the College Football Hall of Fame.
“A big thing throughout this process that I valued was family,” Gilbert said during his announcement. “I feel like Coach O has a good thing going there with ‘one team, one heartbeat.’ The school, I fell in love with it from the moment I stepped onto the campus.”
Gilbert, a 6-foot-5, 253-pound five-star recruit, is the highest-ranked tight end recruit of all time according to 247Sports. He is the No. 10 overall prospect in the class of 2020, the No. 1 tight end in the nation and the No. 2 player in Georgia.
“He’s grown tremendously over the years,” Marietta coach Richard Morgan said. “He’s a tremendous athlete. I think he could play either side of the ball in college. Physically, he’ll be able to match up with the other athletes he’ll be going against when he gets to school. I think he’s going to be a kid that can play early and I think he’ll have a very good career.”
Gilbert became the ninth member of Marietta's vaunted senior class to make his college commitment, and the fourth to choose a Southeastern Conference program. Quarterback Harrison Bailey and defensive lineman B.J. Ojulari chose Tennessee, with defensive back Rashad Torrence committing to Florida.
The other senior commits include running back Kimani Vidal (Troy), wide receivers Taji Johnson (Boston College) and Ricky White (Michigan State), offensive lineman Jake Wray (Colorado) and defensive back Ra'Shun Bass (Akron).
Over the course of his recruitment, Gilbert landed more than 25 scholarship offers from Power 5 schools, including the biggest football powerhouses in the nation. Ultimately, his final top five came down to Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Clemson and Texas A&M.
Rivals and 247Sports each predicted Gilbert would select either Alabama or Georgia. Instead, Gilbert donned an LSU cap, choosing the Tigers, who have flourished under Oregron's watch the last two years and vaulted to No. 2 in The Associated Press rankings
According to 247Sports, Gilbert surpassed current Carolina Panthers star Greg Olsen as the top-rated high school tight end of all time. Gilbert also is the No. 8 all-time prospect in Georgia behind the likes of current Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, former Harrison High School standout and current Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro Eric Berry.
Gilbert leads Cobb County in receiving with 838 yards on 44 receptions, along with six touchdowns. Last year as a junior, Gilbert hauled in 88 passes for 1,210 yards and 14 touchdowns.
“He’s a very good kid,” Morgan said. “He’s a nice young man, gets good grades, has a great mom. He’s got a really good foundation. I think he’s going to have a very bright future.”