HOOVER, Ala. — Arik Gilbert is back at home in Georgia after a short, strange stay at LSU.
Naturally the Bulldogs, who were no doubt dismayed to see the 2019 Gatorade national player of the year slip out of his home state to Baton Rouge, are delighted to have finally landed him.
“You're always looking to be dynamic,” Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Tuesday at SEC Football Media Days. “You look at teams that have won the national championship recently and they're most dynamic on offense and at the skill positions.”
Gilbert is switching skill positions. The 6-foot-5, 248-pound native of Marietta, Georgia, caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns in eight games as a tight end at LSU. At Georgia, Gilbert is listed as a wide receiver.
“I've been asked more about Arik more than anything else today and I keep saying the same thing,” said Georgia quarterback JT Daniels, himself a transfer from Southern California. “There are players who have great talent and like football, and then there's guys like Arik who have great talent and love football.
“He spends time with coaches, like hours with coaches, to learn a brand-new system, learn the signals, learn how specifically we run routes and how specifically, as receivers and tight ends, they read defenses. He does a lot of the things that really impress you regardless of his talent level. He’s a special player.”
Gilbert left LSU after Game 8 last season against Alabama, briefly committed to Florida and met with the LSU team during spring football before transferring to Georgia in May.
LSU players named to watch lists
LSU cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr. and Elias Ricks were both named to the Bednarik Award watch list on Monday, and wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was named to the Maxwell Award watch list.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Boutte was named to the Freshman All-SEC team last season, when he set the league record for yards receiving in a game against Ole Miss with 14 catches for 308 yards and three touchdowns.
Boutte is expected to be LSU's top target at receiver this season, and he'd join former quarterback Joe Burrow as the second player in LSU history to win the Maxwell Award, given annually to college football's player of the year.
The Bednarik Award, given to college football's defensive player of the year, was last won by former LSU defensive backs Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in back-to-back years in 2010 and 2011, respectively.
Stingley and Ricks were also both named to the Walter Camp Preseason All-America Team.
Stingley, a Dunham School graduate, has been a first-team All-America selection after both his freshman and sophomore seasons in Baton Rouge, and, if he is selected again after the 2021 season, he'll join former defensive back Tommy Casanova as LSU's only three-time first-team All-Americans in school history.
Stingley enters his junior season with the expectation that he will emerge as one of the top prospects for the upcoming NFL draft.
As a freshman, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Stingley led the Southeastern Conference and ranked No. 5 nationally with six interceptions. He missed three games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to sickness and injury, and he's expected to regain productiveness under new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones.
Ricks was named third-team All-America during his freshman season. He ranked second in the SEC with four interceptions in 2020 and returned two for touchdowns.
Rosenthal in mix at UK
Dare Rosenthal was penciled in as LSU’s starting left tackle before he left the program this summer. Now that he has transferred to Kentucky, he isn’t being promised a starting spot, but his coach and fellow offensive linemen are glad he’s there competing for one.
“Adding Dare greatly helps our football team,” UK coach Mark Stoops said. “He has SEC experience. He played at one of the premier programs in our league, very talented, and I’m excited to have him. We’ve had good offensive linemen. We’re going to continue to build on that, and he’s been a great addition.”
Offensive tackle Darian Kinnard said he hasn’t met Rosenthal yet but knows there someone coming “for your spot every year.”
“I feel like you’ve got to get used to it now or later,” Kinnard said. “But at the end of the day, it’s good competition. He’s a teammate. It’s healthy.”
Rules changes for 2021
There are few significant college football rules changes for 2021. As has frequently been the case in recent years, the emphasis will continue to be on the length of games and the impact of instant replay on them.
John McDaid, the SEC coordinator of football officials, said there were an average of 2.5 replay stoppages in 2020 in the FBS, up from 2.2 per game in 2019. The SEC average last season was 2.9 per game.
Of those, 26% were replays to consider catch/no catch rulings.
“There’s schools of thought that are thinking maybe we go to more of a hybrid where we put that (call) in the coach’s hands and let them decide if it’s impactful and we need to stop the game,” McDaid said.
Despite a concern about stoppages, McDaid said new replay technology will allow the use of up to 12 camera angles on a play instead of four.
Other rules changes include:
• Extending the coaching boxes to the 20-yard lines. It was temporarily the 15 to 15 in 2020, 25 to 25 in 2019 and previously.
• Overtime scoring rules are now one- or two-point conversions in the first extra period, a two-point try after touchdown in the second, and two-point tries from the 3-yard line only after that.
• No undergarments such as T-shirts may extend below the waistline at the torso.
• The game clock will be adjusted on replay reversals with under two minutes left in the first half and five minutes left in the game.
Brooks Kubena contributed to this report