February 14, 2011

Big Justin Gilbert is now a Black Knight

At 6-foot-5, 270, Justin Gilbert has the frame to play at a solid 280-290, without missing a beat and his year at the United States Military Academy Prep school see the added muscle and weight, along with other attributes manifest in 2011.

"He just turned seventeen at the end of September and he is young and has a lot of growing to do," shares Gibert's high school coach, Mark Evans. "The prep school is going to benefit him tremendously."

Evans was quick to point to his "young-seasoned" lineman's continued progression and potential.

"He was a three year starter for me on the O & D line," says Evans. "As a sophomore he started at offensive guard, as a junior he started for me at tackle and this past year at center, along with having his best year at DT this year.

"He is a rock steady offensive lineman and they (Army coaching staff) initially said center - guard or even move him over to the d-line as his potential positions."

Gibert, who had walk-on opportunities with Temple and Bowling Green is a young still to be seasoned player and each year in high school he got better.

"He is able to get around the edge and getting to the second level where he is able to get his hat on the linebackers," Evans said this weekend.

Track - shot & discuss and also plays basketball.

While some schools don't like to take a shot on a player when it may be solely based on potential, Evans has big upside and is a welcome addition to the Black Knights' program.

The prospect out of Myerstown (PA) Elco High School has tremendous work effort and in the long run, he could be an awesome diamond in the rough prospect for the 2011 class.

Army Bound

Needless to say, the soft spoken Gilbert is excited about becoming a Black Knight as noted by his reaction for the moment he gave his verbal to Army.

"I haven't seen a smile on his face like this all year long … He really likes Coach Ellerson and Coach Waugh who recruited him," Evans explains.

For Gilbert, Army's offer and his commitment were both late in the "recruiting process", but a mutually beneficial engagement.

"Army offered the Monday before Signing Day," says Gilbert, as he walks through the events that took place prior to giving this pledge. I was behind one guy on their board and they waiting to see if he signed on Monday.

But either way, it didn't take long for Gilbert to jump at the opportunity to play for Army and attend West Point.

"I verbally committed yesterday," shared Gilbert said this past Friday. "I was expecting the call for a while and he (Waugh) called to say congratulations, we want to offer you a scholarship to play at Army, it was a no brainer."

Gilbert was on campus for an official visit and that really sealed the deal for the big offensive lineman. "It was a great visit …. I enjoyed being around the players and being on campus," he said.

"Everything caught my eye and I have seen any facilities better than that.

On Sunday before departing, Gilbert spent some time with Army head coach, Rich Elleron. "Just before I left he told me not to commit yet, but go home and think about it. He said there is a lot to digest," Gilbert reflects.

"I had a class with my head coach and I told him I was ready and when Coach Waugh called and asked if I wanted to be a Black Knight, I told him yes."

Although he had his eyes on Army for most of the 2010 season, where he indicated that he watched the VMI, SMU and Navy games on TV, he initially remained apprehensive when it came to Black Knights and the idea of being at West Point.

"Earlier in the season, I didn't know if that if Army was for me, but once I started to think about it, it grew on me," Gilbert shares.

In addition to football, Gilbert participates in track where his events are the discus and shot put. He also plays center on Elco's basketball and when asked about dunking … "it depends on the day," says a laughing Gilbert.

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