A New Memory

A week after playing his first college game, calling it one of the best experiences of his life, true freshman David Gilbert recovers a blocked punt for a touchdown, a key play that swung the momentum in Wisconsin's 44-14 victory over Wofford.

MADISON – True freshman David Gilbert couldn't imagine a moment topping the experience of playing his first college game in front of 80,000 people last weekend.

One week later, the freshman from Coral Spring, Florida, has a new favorite on his college top ten lists.

Earning the right to be a rusher on Wisconsin's punt team unit, Gilbert scored his first career touchdown on a blocked punt, one of the many stellar highlights turned out by UW's defensive units in a 44-14 blowout win over Wofford Saturday.

"When you get a big play to help the team, it feels really nice," Gilbert said.

With the Badgers already leading 10-0 in the second quarter, true freshman teammate Chris Borland leaped over the blockers in front of Wofford punter Chris Tommie and got his right hand on the football. The ball skidded 25 yards toward the end line, where Gilbert secured possession before sliding out of bounds.

It was Wisconsin's first blocked punt return for a touchdown since Jonathan Casillas did the feat against Bowling Green in September 2006.

"I never dream of making a block punt for a touchdown, but when you're in the position to make the play, the coaches goal is to have you make it," said Gilbert, who also recovered a fumble in the third quarter. "I knew I had to slide to make the play. Any play can swing momentum."

Every week, depending on who was asked, the answer regarding the status of true freshman David Gilbert would change.

One week, Gilbert, a freshman from Northeast, Florida, would be steadily progressive and was projected to play on Saturday. The next week, Gilbert would be taking his redshirt to add strength and mass to his frame.

With injuries knocking out sophomore Louis Nzegwu and freshman Brendan Kelly, depleting Wisconsin's depth at defensive end at the same time, entering week 2, Gilbert got his answer, suiting up for two snaps on defense and four snaps on special teams.

"With those guys being out, the decision was basically made," Gilbert said. "I wanted to play, I wanted to contribute, the coaches saw that and they took advantage of me wanting to contribute. They saw that I was ready, so they played me."

One of four freshmen to enroll in January to participate in spring football, Gilbert, who enrolled at 205 pounds coming of an MCL injury, had added 29 pounds of muscle, an inch in height and has dropped his 40-yard dash time to 4.5 seconds.

With both Kelly and Nzegwu expected to be back at 100 percent next week, Gilbert is looking forward to making his mark on special teams, much like he did Saturday.

"Everything the coaches told me about the development standpoint, wanting me to come in early and me wanting to take a redshirt to get better, they felt I was ready to play," Gilbert said. "I thought I was going to take my redshirt, but going hard against those guys everyday in practice has put me ahead, even though I am so much younger than everyone else on the field."

"I never had that experience, but I knew I had to go out and take care of business like it was any other day. If you do everything the best of your ability everyday, you're going to get better."


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