Of the 11 recruits who have shown up for official visits this weekend at Arkansas, the most under-the-radar prospect is probably North Carolina Tech linebacker Tyler Gilbert.
But Gilbert (6-3, 242, 4.5) - a former River Ridge (LA) John Curtis high school standout who shined at the prep school level this season - certainly looks the part of SEC middle linebacker.
He certainly embraces that role, wants to fill it for the Razorbacks and since he is academically qualified could enroll at Arkansas in January and thus go through spring practice.
Gilbert committed to Arkansas on Saturday night becoming the 24th public pledge for the Razorbacks in the 2011 class.
"The thing that sold it for me was walking into the stadium," Gilbert said. "This is where I want to play my college football. Also (Arkansas freshman linebacker) Braylon Mitchell was a great host and filled me in on every thing I needed to know. I love these coaches and players."
He believes he can help out the defense right away.
"I feel like I could bring the defensive intensity to a whole another level," Gilbert said. "They are on a high level as it is, but I think I can come in and make plays and help win championships. Defense wins championships."
Gilbert, who had 62 tackles and 5 sacks this season for North Carolina Tech (9-1), got a look at the Arkansas campus from Razorback defensive coordinator Willy Robinson right away when he arrived on Friday afternoon.
"I toured the campus with Coach Robinson," Gilbert said. "It is a really nice campus and it looks like it gets really energetic around football time. This would be a nice place for me to fit in."
Auburn showed interest in Gilbert out of high school, but getting his ACT score late kept him from getting on board with the Tigers.
"I ended up getting my film out really late and the recruiting process was heavily going on," Gilbert said. "They had already given out their scholarships. When I visited Auburn, they were telling me ‘if you were a junior this year, we would go ahead and offer you. But with you being a senior we are out of scholarships.'"
Instead of getting down, Gilbert – who was just 6-2, 200 his senior season - chose to take the prep school route in hopes of becoming a better player with better options.
"I thought I should have been more recruited, but I just trusted in God and tried to let him guide my path," Gilbert said.
Gilbert chose Arkansas over has offers this time around from Arkansas, Southern Mississippi, Louisiana-Monroe, Stephen F. Austin and Gardner-Webb.
Gilbert, who says he has a 20 on his ACT and a 3.17 core grade point average, does not try to hide the leader among that bunch and says he could be a Razorback by the end of the weekend.
"I am loving it so far," Gilbert said. "After the weekend is over, I will talk to Coach Robinson and if everything goes well I will tell him I want to join this football team."
Gilbert thinks going the prep school route has been a blessing for him as his team played top competition – including some junior college squads in addition to other prep schools.
North Carolina Tech is 65-5 in its five-year history and had 69 players signed Division I scholarships.
"High school had some outstanding players, but prep school this year help me realize how much better players get and what I need to work on as far as my strengths and weaknesses," Gilbert said.
Gilbert played his senior season at John Curtis and was a teammate of current Razorback freshman offensive lineman Luke Charpentier.
He is also friends with Ramon Broadway, the Razorbacks' senior cornerback.
"He (Charpentier) has told me it has a nice academic program, he loves the football team and says it is like his brothers," Gilbert said. "I have also heard a lot of good things from Ramon Broadway. I trained with him at Sonic Boom. He told me it is a nice place to be."
Gilbert is obviously excited about the chance to play for a team that is headed to a BCS bowl.
"Arkansas is headed in the right direction," Gilbert said. "I think I can add a little bit more intensity to the defense and get it started right."
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