Offer Increases Gilbert’s UNC Interest

Fayetteville (N.C.) Sanford cornerback Mark Gilbert was giving UNC serious consideration before receiving a Tar Heel offer. Now he has one.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- Absent an offer, Mark Gilbert made a few visits to North Carolina the past six months. That won’t be the case the next time the Fayetteville (N.C.) Sanford cornerback travels to Chapel Hill. A month ago, UNC extended the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder his 12th offer.

“I’ve always liked Carolina – that’s the reason why I’ve been up there a couple times, even though they didn’t offer,” Gilbert said. “Now that they’ve offered, it definitely ups the interest a little bit. I’m still wide open with this thing, right now – it’s pretty much a level playing field.”

Louisville and South Carolina have since offered Gilbert. He already possessed offers from Boston College, Duke, Louisville, Michigan, NC State, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and West Virginia.

After school one day in mid-April, Gilbert’s coach, Bryan Till, asked him to call John Papuchis, who recruits Cumberland County for UNC.

“He just told me that he knows that they’re a little late to the party, but he doesn’t want that to affect my interest in them,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert says the tardiness of UNC’s offer won’t affect his recruitment.

“I knew that with the change in [defensive] coaching that they were going to offer,” Gilbert said. “And with the change of staff, they were going to have to kind of go through the process. I’ve very understanding of that.”

With an offer in hand, Gilbert “definitely” wants to return to Chapel Hill in the near future. However, he doesn’t have a trip planned to UNC or any school. He’s taking a hiatus from recruiting travels until the summer.

During his spring break, Gilbert, along with his cousin Zack, traveled to his old stomping grounds to visit Pittsburgh, as well as Michigan and Penn State.

“They were all great visits,” Gilbert said. “I loved each school. That’s the fun thing about this process – seeing everything that each school has to offer.”

Before his spring break ended, Gilbert squeezed in a brief trip to Duke for a more detailed look at the campus and football program. He had previously visited the Blue Devils but the trip was limited in scope.

Gilbert figures to make a verbal commitment prior to the football season. To simplify his decision, he’ll narrow his focus to five schools at a yet to be determined time.

“I could name a couple [that would make the cut], but I really don’t want that out right now,” Gilbert said. “I have a couple in my mind, but it changes. I’ll release it when I know for sure.”

Gilbert would reveal, however, that UNC was “pretty high up” in his mind.

“I’ve always had interest in North Carolina, so they’ll definitely probably make the cut,” Gilbert said. “Just the couple times I went up there, I loved the coaching staff and I just loved the Carolina feel.”

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