The book on: Justin Gilbert

As far as big-play production at cornerback and as a returner, Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert is unmatched in this year's draft. He scored eight non-offensive touchdowns in his career.

Justin Gilbert

Cornerback/Free Safety/Return Specialist
Oklahoma State University Cowboys
Huntsville, Texas
Huntsville High School


The former track standout was the unquestioned "King of the Hill" when he faced off vs. the other defensive backs attending the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, leading all safeties and cornerbacks with a scorching 4.37-second clocking in the 40-yard dash. Dating back to the last 10 events in Indianapolis, that time was the fourth-best for any defensive back.

Gilbert's speed and natural hands has seen the former four-star recruit not only etch his name into the school and Big Twelve Conference record books for his defensive success, but also for his sensational ability as a kickoff returner. His 12 interceptions rank fifth in school annals and tied for seventh on the league record chart, as his 180 yards in returns rank seventh in school history, tying the Cowboys annual record by returning two of those thefts for touchdowns as a senior.

Gilbert closed out his career second in school and Big Twelve history with 102 kickoff returns for 2,681 yards, establishing new conference and Cowboys records with six runbacks for touchdowns. His success at reaching the end zone ranks as the third-best in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history. His average of 26.28 yards per return also placed second on the Oklahoma State all-time list.

Gilbert closed out his career ranked ninth among major college's active players for interceptions, placing 21st with his theft return yard total (180), which rank seventh in school annals. His 102 kickoff returns placed fifth and ranks fourth among active players in kickoff return yardage (2,641). He also led that group with his six kickoff returns for touchdowns.

With such an impressive statistical resume, experts are also highly impressed with Gilbert's ball skills, as he excels at tracking the thrown ball over his shoulder, evident by recording five of his seven interceptions from deep tosses in 2013. He is a natural hands catcher, having never put the ball on the ground throughout his four seasons returning kicks. With his well-built frame, he is also effective at coming up and lending run support.

Gilbert was a recruiting coup for the Oklahoma State coaches, as he was heavily pursued by all the major colleges in his home state of Texas. At Hunstville High School, only rated him with three stars and called him the 42nd-best cornerback in the nation.

The two-time district MVP was also a Super Prep all-region pick and ranked by that publication as the 51st-best player in the state. He earned postseason honors on both sides of the ball throughout his career. As a sophomore, he scored 11 times on 97 carries for 521 yards (5.4 ypc), along with completing 97-of-166 passes for 1,338 yards and nine touchdowns.

Gilbert followed with five scoring strikes while picking up 629 yards and eight touchdowns on just 69 rushing attempts (9.1 ypc) in 2008. His senior season produced 122 carries for 1,061 yards and nine scores, finishing with 753 yards and four scores behind 50-of-108 pass attempts.

In addition to football, Gilbert lettered in basketball and track. He competed in the 100 meters and the 200 meters, posting a personal best of 10.68 seconds in the 100 meters his senior year. At the Texas Relays at the University of Texas at Austin, he won the Division II finals in the 100 meters. He ran a personal best of 21.59 seconds in the 200 meters en route to winning the Texas Class 4A championship in that event.

Gilbert contributed immediately after enrolling at Oklahoma State in 2010, serving as the top reserve at weak-side cornerback, making eighteen tackles. He went on to lead the Big Twelve Conference with a kickoff return average of 26.85 yards, as he tied the school season-record after returning two of those 26 kicks for touchdowns. He also chipped in with 55 yards on eight punt returns.

An All-American selection as a return specialist in 2011, Gilbert led the conference and ranked 12th nationally with a 27.04-yard average (fifth in team annals) on 26 kickoff returns for 703 yards (third-best in Cowboys history) as he tied his own school record with two more touchdown runbacks. He also took over weak-side cornerback duties, recording 59 tackles with 10 pass deflections, finishing 14th in the nation with five interceptions that he returned for 57 yards. His total of 15 passes defended ranked sixth in the Big Twelve.

Gilbert garnered All-Big Twelve Conference as a return specialists, running back a school record 32 kicks, good for 827 yards (second on the Cowboys annual chart) and a 25.84-yard average (second in the league). Starting all 13 games, the junior cornerback also produced a career-high 63 tackles that included 56 solo stops, as he also broke up nine tosses and caused a fumble behind the line of scrimmage.

The consensus All-American first-team choice was named one of three finalists for the coveted Jim Thorpe Award (nation's top cornerback). He led the Big Twelve and ranked fourth in the nation with a career-high seven interceptions, tied for fourth in school annals and seventh on the league annual list. His two thefts returned for touchdowns tied an OSU record and he also scored once on 18 kickoffs for 453 yards (25.17 avg). The cornerback also posted 42 tackles (37 solos) and deflected nine other throws.


Gilbert appeared in 51 games at Oklahoma State, starting his final thirty-nine contests, as the weak-side cornerback recorded 182 tackles (157 solos) with three stops behind the line of scrimmage, one quarterback pressure, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery…Deflected 27 passes and intercepted 12 others for 180 yards in returns, including two touchdowns…Returned eight punts for 55 yards (6.88 avg), as he gained 2,681 yards with six touchdowns on 102 kickoff returns (26.28 avg)

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