Explosive D-End strengthens 2003 class

It was no secret that Alabama needed linemen to shore up its 2003 class, and the recent commitment by Wallace Gilberry should be just what the doctor ordered.

At 6-3, 235 pounds, Gilberry explodes off the corner looking to bury the quarterback. "I am a red-nosed pit bull," Gilberry said in describing his defensive style. "I'm like a shark thirsty for blood on every play."

That mentality is what college coaches seek to find every year. During his senior year he totaled 61 solo tackles, 16 assisted tackles, seven sacks, seven tackles for loss, six pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. The Bay Minette native made the All Region and All State teams following last season.

Gilberry can play several positions, including tight end and linebacker, but he seems ideally suited for defensive end on the college level. "My doctors have told me I'm not finished growing," Gilbert told BamaMag.com in a recent interview. "They say I should end up about 6-5 or so, but they can't predict how much I'll weigh."

Gilberry's grandfather was 6-7 in height.

The Baldwin County star had a superb senior season, but it wasn't until he stole the show in the Alabama/Mississippi All Star game (six tackles, two sacks) that he started garnering major attention. In that contest he went head to head with Donovan Davis (MSU signee, and one of the top three offensive tackles in the South as a senior). Gilberry dominated the Parade All America, many times leaving Davis in his dust.

The Alabama All-Stars dominated for most of the second half, but Mississippi had one last chance when an interception and return gave them the football at the Alabama 10 yardline with just over a minute to play. But Gilberry proceeded to sack the Mississippi quarterback for a 14-yard loss, helping to seal the win for his squad.

Defensive Ends Coach Paul Randolph will be Gilberry's position coach at Alabama.

After the game he received scholarship offers from Auburn first, then Southern Miss. Miami called his coach to inquire about the possibility of signing him in January after he played one year of junior college football.

But Alabama also showed interest, and when the offer was made, it was an easy decision for Gilberry. "I will be rolling with the Tide," was how he put it. "It's an honor to even be looked at by Alabama. To be able to play for them and be a part of their tradition is great."

Gilberry and his mother visited the Tide campus in late June, meeting with the Tide assistant coaches and Mike Shula. "Coach Shula is very impressive in person," Gilberry related. "He is totally sincere."

When no Division 1 offers came before National Signing Day, Gilberry signed to play at Itawamba Junior College as a qualified player (2.85 GPA, 17 ACT).

Gilberry has been timed at 4.60 in the 40-yard dash. He bench presses 275 pounds, squats 530 and deadlifts 525.

Gilberry's commitment brings Bama's total number of 2003 signees to 19. Quarterback Cliff Davis signed with Major League Baseball and will not report with the rest of the class this August. There has been no official word from the Alabama coaches, but it's also believed that probably two and possibly as many as four additional incoming prospects will not qualify.

Under terms of NCAA probation, the Tide can bring in 18 new scholarshipped players this fall. Any grants not filled are expected to be used on mid-term signees in December and be back-counted against Bama's 2003 numbers.

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