Gator Country caught up with the 6-6, 280-pound Gilbert just after he returned home from a dominating performance on team Florida in the CaliFlorida Bowl game Saturday evening. Following the game that pits the best seniors from Florida against the best from California, Gilbert decided to make his decision to be a Gator public. With several future teammates surrounding him, he let it be known he'll be coming to Gainesville and then he joined them on a red-eye flight back to the Sunshine State.
"We flew all night and got in this morning at 4:30," Gilbert said. "I did real well. I dominated the guy across from me every time. I started and I only came out for two series. The conditions were real sloppy, but I don't really care as long as I get the job done."
The commitment was a family ordeal. A solid base and bright future were two main ingredients that led Gilbert to decide on the Gators.
"I committed to the Gators about two weeks ago," he said. "My dad called Coach (Doc) Holliday and told him where we were at because we had a family discussion about where we were at. Coach Meyer called and talked to my parents and then I told him I was committed.
"The coaches they have are going to be there a long time. I loved the campus and the players. Just being on the field with the players I was on the field with yesterday, I really like them and want to be around them … Jim Barrie, Tim Tebow, Bryan Thomas, Dustin Doe … guys like that. It was like one big family."
Gilbert was on the Florida campus for the Friday Night Lights mini-camp back in July where he got some one-on-one work with Gator offensive line coach John Hevesy. He says he learned a lot even in that brief experience and he's ready to pick up where he left off in the summer. He thinks the coaching staff at Florida can really teach the game.
"Coach Hevesy taught me a lot already and taught me how to better person on and off the field," he said. "He taught me how to be a better person and taught me techniques on the field."
Gator fans were holding their collective breaths about Gilbert even though they believed he was leaning strongly to Florida. A scheduled visit to Miami on January 27 had the Gator faithful nervous but Gilbert says no need for that.
"I am coming in to Gainesville for my official visit on January 20th," he said. "I don't think I am going to take that Miami visit."
Gilbert has the work ethic on the field and the character off the field to be a poster child for the kind of player that Florida coaches are bringing in to represent the university. Gilbert knows the expectations are high and that suits him perfectly.
"They should expect me to be dominant on the field and a role model on and off the field," he said without pause. "They will see how I will help out the team the best that I can and help them win championships."
Marcus Gilbert's commitment is a continued sign that Coach Urban Meyer wants to tap the vast talent resources of South Florida. Getting Gilbert helps the Gators get in the door at St. Thomas Aquinas, one of South Florida's most consistent and dominant programs. It's a move that can only help Florida in the future.