Gilbert still learning

Reggie Gilbert has not been playing football for long, but that does not mean he will not make an impact. Read on to see what Gilbert says about his teammates, who he is learning with, and more.

Despite playing only one season of junior varsity and only one season of varsity level high school football, Reggie Gilbert knows he's been afforded an opportunity that most in his position would not normally have. While he may be behind those who have played football for the majority of their lives, the Laveen (Ariz.) Fairfax High School product believes there is more to success in Division-I football than prior experience.

"I'll never use my lack of experience for an excuse," Gilbert said. "At the end of the day, it's just playing football. There are people who have been playing football all of their life and still haven't been blessed with the opportunity to play D-I football. I think it all just depends on someone's work ethic."

That work ethic has put Gilbert in a position to contribute as a true freshman in 2011, as the veteran defensive ends on the roster have been working with him and fellow freshman Dame Ndiaye to help bring them up to speed.

"It's been quite a transition from high school," Gilbert said. "There's a lot of older guys on the team like C.J. (Parish), Mohammed (Usman), and Dame that have been really on me. My roommate Dame and I have been putting in a lot of work technique wise.

"Me and him haven't been playing the game for a long time, so we're working on things we didn't pick up in high school. The older guys have taken me under their wing and they've been great."

If you head out to a practice, often times Gilbert and Ndiaye are the last two players off the field, as they spend extra time together on the sled or doing bag work. With a void at defensive end left by the graduation of Brooks Reed, Ricky Elmore, and D'Aundre Reed to the NFL, the freshmen are looking to impact the 2011 team in any way possible.

"I just want to contribute to the team, that's what is motivating me," Gilbert said. "UA hasn't won a conference title and that's something that me and Dame both came here with the mindset that we wanted to be able to contribute as fast as possible. Whether that's as redshirts on the scout team or getting in the game, we really just want to contribute."

The hard work appears to be paying off, as Gilbert took the place of the injured Mohammed Usman in Saturday's scrimmage on the first team defense in the fall scrimmage. While most freshmen would be content in his shoes, Gilbert used the scrimmage as a learning tool to help prepare him for further game action.

"Starting in the scrimmage was a humbling experience," Gilbert said. "Everybody out on the defense and the offensive guys, they're real competitive and their good competitors. The first team is good and to get in work with them, I was humbled and blessed with the opportunity to go with the ones. I got a lot of good work in, and I found some things that I did good, some things I need to work on."

With just a short time to go before his Arizona debut, the 6-foot-3, 240-pound pass rusher continues to work on the technique that will make him an effective defensive end.

"I'm really just working on my all around game," Gilbert said. "My pass rushing ability is okay right now, but I know I can do better. The main thing for me is the six technique, getting off the ball and finding the running back. In high school they told me to line up outside and get the quarterback, now I actually have to read stuff. I'm progressing really well I think, I just need to get that technique down."

With a work ethic that is hard to find, and a desire to succeed equally difficult to match, it's no surprise that Gilbert doesn't have ambitions of sacks or tackles for his freshman year, and is focused solely on getting better.

"Personally, I just want to go out every play and just refine all of my skills and work on my technique," Gilbert said. "I want to be remembered as the guy that everyone can count on. I want to form that bond with everyone and do my best.

"I feel like I'm going to be able to compete and that I'm going to be able to give it my all no matter what."

Aside from his intangibles, Gilbert also brings a winning attitude to the team that should help move the Arizona Wildcats towards the accomplishment of its goals.

"We want to go to a Rose Bowl and win a conference championship," Gilbert said. "That's something we have been talking about. Anyone who wants that title is going to have to come through Tucson first."

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