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Season in Review: Tyrell Gilbert

A change in position and scheme did not help Gilbert improve on a solid — if injury-riddled — sophomore season.

NCAA Football: Marshall at Cincinnati Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Numbers

  • 43 tackles
  • 3.0 tackles for loss
  • 1.0 sack
  • 2 passes defended
  • 2 forced fumbles

There was a lot of reason to believe Tyrell Gilbert was going to have a breakout year in 2017. That’s if you think his three-interception campaign (in only eight games mind you) from 2016 wasn’t already a break out. The redshirt junior was one of the most versatile defenders on the roster in 2016 and with a new, defensively-sound coaching staff installed for 2017, Gilbert’s stock couldn’t have been higher.

Luke Fickell and his staff determined that Gilbert, a safety by trade, would be more fit to play as a slot linebacker alongside Perry Young and Jaylyin Minor. Both Minor and Young had exceptional years, but Gilbert did not. Even though he was not limited by injuries like he was in 2016, Gilbert came up short of the expectations placed on him. His 43 tackles may have been the second-most he has had in his career, but that total was only three more than he had last year in three fewer games. He also had as many passes defended (two) and forced fumbles (two) as that shortened year.

Since he was playing a different position and no longer in the secondary, having fewer passes to bat down makes sense and it was at least good to see his hard-hitting style helped in his new role. Still, Gilbert didn’t to take his new post by the horns and was even demoted in favor of freshman Jarell White near the end of the season.

The whole season was not an exercise in futility, however. With the move toward the front lines, Gilbert did record a season-high with three tackles for loss, including his first career sack. But he did not have a single pick and will need to drastically improve his work in creating pressure next year.

The Best of the Best

Aug. 13 vs. Austin Peay

In the season opener, Gilbert not only produced his first sack, he also forced a fumble and finished with four tackles.

Oct. 14 at USF

While none of them went for loss, Gilbert’s eight tackles marked a season-high. He also had six solo stops, which was a personal best for the year as well.

For Next Year

There will be job openings at linebacker for Gilbert, who suddenly has to compete for a starting gig since White came on strong. If Gilbert is going to make it back to a top spot on the depth chart he needs to be a better tackler and press opposing backfields better. Perhaps his role will change next year, as safety may be a better fit for him. Either way, there is work to be done.