Top Emerging Players: No. 9 Justin Gilbert

We continue our list of the Top 10 Emerging Players for 2011. To be eligible for this list you either have to be a returning player that has never had any regular playing duty on the team, be a newcomer, or redshirt player that has yet to break into the lineup. The criteria is also need on the team, whether as a starter or in a critical spot on the depth chart.

No. 9 - Justin Gilbert, CB/KR
6-0, 193, So.
Huntsville, Texas

Gilbert qualifies as an emerging player, but barely. Gilbert lettered last season and was one of the top kickoff returners in the nation (No.22), and led the Big 12 with an average of 26.9 yards a return.

He will be valuable in that role again this season, and has to be considered a veteran there, but we are suggesting his importance will expand if he can emerge and become a real force at corner. He played some last season and had 18 tackles (16 unassisted) and an interception.

He finished the spring listed behind Brodrick Brown on the depth chart, but could compete for lots of time as either a third corner or going against fellow sophomore Devin Hedgepeth, who played a lot last season.

With size, speed, and athleticism, Gilbert has lockdown physical ability for the position. Last season he went through periods of frustration and may have hit a little bit of a freshman wall.

Gilbert, another fellow freshman Larry Stephens, or Andrae May or new freshmen Miketavious Jones or Jonovan Griffin need to come through. In this day and age of the spread offenses and folks going vertical with their passing game, you need to have corners ready to step in often, and on short notice.

Gilbert has a role cemented with the returns and his emergence as a better cornerback could be really critical for the defense.

The Top 10 Emerging Players
No. 10 Kye Staley


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