RECRUITING: Offense or Defense For Gilbert?

They play on what is likely the best high school offensive line in the nation, and just like his two highly regarded teammates, Marcus Gilbert has caught the eye of coaches at some of the nation's most high profile Division I football programs. This 6-6, 280-pounder from Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas has the quick feet that are needed to play tackle at the next level, but he's also a dominator on the other side of the ball.

(See Marcus Gilbert profile)

Gilbert teams up with Sam Young and Daniel Wenger on an offensive line that will totally dominate opponents in the fall. Their ability to pass block and pound defensive lines to open up the running game is one of the chief reasons Aquinas is likely to start the season ranked in the top ten in all the national high school polls. Young is considered one of the three best offensive tackles in the country and Wenger is considered the best center prospect. Gilbert ranks among the best on both sides of the ball. He's collected plenty of offers but from those courting him, he's selected eight favorites.

"Miami, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, NC State, Oklahoma, Florida State, and Auburn are my favorites," Gilbert said. "Auburn and Florida said they offered but I haven't gotten a written offer yet, the rest have."

The reviews from recruiters vary about where he will fit in best at the next level. Some say offense, others say defense and quite a few schools say they will just put him on the field and let him find the place he fits. If he's given the choice, though, he knows where he would at least start his college career.

"I like defense but the decision to go to school for defense will come when I have to make my decision," Gilbert said. "Most schools are recruiting me for offense, but a few on defense. On defense, I am very dominating off the ball. I can get to the quarterback pretty quick. On offense, I am good at run blocking and great at pass blocking."

Gilbert gave his impressions of each of his eight favorites:

MIAMI: "It was my favorite team growing up. They have a great coaching staff and a great program. It is beautiful down here. They help a lot with their players and keeping them on the right track."

LSU: "When I was growing up, I liked them a lot. Even though I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, I liked LSU."

FLORIDA: "They have a great coaching staff … I like their coaching staff a lot. They look like they are going to be a good team at this point."

SOUTH CAROLINA: "They need offensive linemen and (Coach) Steve Spurrier is a good coach. They told me what the school has to offer, and that is pretty good."

NC STATE: "It is beautiful up there. I like their coaching staff, too."

OKLAHOMA: "I like their coaches. I know a lot about Oklahoma, and I like their program, too."

FLORIDA STATE: "My sister goes to school at FSU. She talks good about their coaching staff and Coach Bobby Bowden. The new O-Line coach McHale, I heard he is pretty good, too."

AUBURN: "They have a really good program and good tradition that would be good. What Coach (Tommy) Tubberville has done for the team … that is really good."

He and his Aquinas teammates have been busting it this summer getting ready for the new season. They are looking to make a return trip to the state championship game, where they hope to finish business this time. Last year, Aquinas lost in the finals.

"Yeah I have been busy mainly with football workouts with my team," he said. "We do them Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Mondays and Fridays we do a speed and agility camp with (ex-Pro Bowler) Chris Carter. He comes out to the school and trains us. We just plan to take every game very seriously and take them game by game. With the schedule we have we can't take it lightly."

He also won't take his recruitment lightly. He wants to be the best football player he can be now, in college and then further. He lists just a couple of things that he thinks will ensure that progress and what he wants in his college choice.

"I will look for how the coaches work with (me) and how I can establish myself playing there," he said.

While Marcus Gilbert is perhaps the least known of the big three offensive linemen from Aquinas, he is an outstanding prospect who has the top schools in the country courting him. When decision day comes along, he will be making an informed, well thought out decision.

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