The two five-star signees who signed with LSU's 2020 recruiting class both underwent shoulder surgeries, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in a radio interview Tuesday morning.
Arik Gilbert, the highest-rated tight end in the history of 247Sports, will miss spring football due to his operation, and Elias Ricks, the nation's No. 2-rated cornerback, is "going to be ready sometime mid-spring."
Orgeron detailed their statuses on 104.5 ESPN's "Off the Bench." You can listen to the full interview here.
Ricks posted a personal injury update on social media shortly after the interview, detailing that he played his whole senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, with a torn labrum and had surgery immediately after the season concluded.
"I will come back stronger than ever," Ricks wrote in the post. "I got a new Robotic shoulder now and it feels amazing I'm almost ready PATIENCE is everything."
Nobody knows I played my whole Senior season injured hurting every game with a torn labrum then had surgery right after, I will come back stronger than ever. I got a new Robotic shoulder now and it feels amazing I’m almost ready PATIENCE is everything...❤️🤞🏾 #GeauxTigers https://t.co/PXoYMnzi24— Eli (@Eliasricks2020) February 11, 2020
The elite players' start their careers in Baton Rouge with minor setbacks. Both enrolled early and are expected to compete for starting positions in 2020.
The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Gilbert was the first true tight end to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year, and he caught 101 passes for 1,760 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior at Marietta High in Georgia.
Gilbert chose LSU over nearly every college football power, allured in part by LSU's record-breaking offense in 2019. Orgeron said he'll fit well in the system at tight end, but he can also play the X and Z positions at wide receiver — spots that Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson played last season, respectively.
Orgeron called Ricks an "outstanding athlete, one of the best players in the country at his position."
The 6-foot-3, 186-pound Ricks is expected to compete for the starting cornerback position opposite Derek Stingley, which was left behind by Kristian Fulton, a senior who will enter the NFL draft.
Orgeron said sophomores Cordale Flott and Mo Hampton are also in competition for the spot.
"Cordale Flott, to me, is one of the best corners we're going to have here," Orgeron said. "Obviously Derek Stingley is off the charts. Probably one of the greatest corners to play here at LSU. It's going to end up that way. But Cordale Flott is not that far behind. He is an outstanding player."
Orgeron also said that LSU defensive end Justin Thomas has returned to the team.
Thomas withdrew from the school for personal reasons in October, and Orgeron said at the time that he hoped Thomas would return in the spring.
The 6-foot-5, 256-pound Alabama native was a junior in 2019, when he played in five games, started in one, and was a key rusher in LSU's pass-rush packages that former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda often used on third downs in passing situations.
Thomas recorded eight tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack in 2019.
"I'm excited about Justin Thomas coming back," Orgeron said Tuesday. "Justin weighed 300 pounds. I want him to get down to 285. We've got him at right end. He's quick and explosive."