Sam Webb: How did your visit go at Michigan last week?
Mark Gilbert: “It went pretty good. I actually loved it up there. I went up there with the expectation that it was a major football program. I knew the stadium was huge, but to see it in person is kind of crazy. I didn’t know what the coaches would be like, but I really loved the coaches. They’re really cool people outside of football. I actually got to see them instruct their players. They got on their players, but that’s what you want as a player. You want your coach to make you better. Off the field, they’re the type of guys that you wouldn’t mind hanging out with off the field.”
Sam Webb: Take me through everything you did while you were up here?
Mark Gilbert: “We got there a couple of days after the spring game. I honestly didn’t know when the spring game was until we got up there and found out that it had just happened. I wouldn’t have been able to make the spring game anyways, just the timing of the visit. We still did everything. We were there just about the whole day. We got a campus tour, facility tour. They sat us down with the woman they have overseeing the academics for their athletes (Shari Acho). She sat down and she talked to us for a good hour. So we got the whole academic side of it too. We talked with another professor, in charge of sports management. We did everything. They emphasized that it is not just about football, but academics too, using football to get your education.”
Sam Webb: What coaches in particular did you spend time with?
Mark Gilbert: “They were with their players all day, but the majority of the time they had one of their player personnel guy show us around and do everything with us. I got to talk with Coach Zordich, Coach Partridge, Coach Durkin, mainly those guys.”
Sam Webb: Did they talk to you about the opportunity to come in and play right away?
Mark Gilbert: “Coach Durkin, he did tell me that I would have an opportunity to come in and compete for a starting position. It is not guaranteed, but just the chance or the fact that I would be able to compete for a chance to play early as a true freshman.”
Sam Webb: It sounds like you were impressed by a lot of things on the visit. What stood out to you the most?
Mark Gilbert: “I’m a big guy on practice and I did get to see their 7-on-7 and I loved the tempo of their practice. It was high paced, little rest. They don’t run. The tempo was their conditioning. Their practice was what stood out the most and the hard work their players put in.”
Sam Webb: How did the Michigan visit stack up to the other places that you’ve been?
Mark Gilbert: “With it being the Big Ten, you can just tell it is a different level of football. I would say that is the main thing, not downing any other conference. The Big Ten is one of the powerhouse conferences in football. You can tell by the size of their players, their players were bigger than some other schools that I had been at.”
Sam Webb: Where is Michigan at on your list right now?
Mark Gilbert: “I would say they are one of my top schools right now. They’ve shown a lot of interest and that’s key for them, for me to know that I’ll be an important role in their program.”
Sam Webb: What are the other schools that are up there right now?
Mark Gilbert: “Just about all of them right now, they all have the same chance. I haven’t narrowed anything down. Right now, I’m enjoying the process, you only go through this once. I’m just enjoying it right now.”
Sam Webb: What is next for you as far as visits are concerned and do you think you will be coming back up to Michigan for an official or anything like that?
Mark Gilbert: “Right now, those four trips, it was very tiring. It takes a toll on your body all the traveling. Right now, I don’t have anything planned for a little while. I do plan to make another trip back up to Michigan.”
Sam Webb: Are you going to be waiting until signing day to make your decision?
Mark Gilbert: “I’m not sure. If it comes down to that yes, but if I know before then what place is best for me then I will announce early.”