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Thursday October 21st, 2021 8:34PM

Former LSU TE Arik Gilbert chooses Florida as landing spot

By The Associated Press
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Florida landed one of the country's most coveted transfers Sunday, a likely replacement for star tight end Kyle Pitts.

Former LSU standout Arik Gilbert committed to the Gators on Twitter, saying "this is the best situation for me and I’m excited to join the family."

The 6-foot-5, 253-pound Gilbert, a five-star prospect and the No. 1 tight end in the 2020 recruiting class, left the Tigers with two games remaining in the 2020 regular season. He's likely to gain immediate eligibility under the NCAA's relaxed transfer rules.

The Marietta, Georgia, native caught 35 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns before opting out. He returned home following a 55-17 loss to Alabama in early December and left open the door to return to Baton Rogue. But he ended up in the transfer portal and clearly on coach Dan Mullen's radar.

Pitts left school after his record-setting junior season, which included 43 receptions for 770 yards and 12 touchdowns as well as a 10th-place finish in Heisman Trophy voting. Pitts is expected to be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft in April.

Gilbert likely will step right into a starring role at Florida, which also lost quarterback Kyle Trask and receivers Trevon Grimes and Kadarius Toney. At the very least, he will compete with Keon Zipperer for playing time this fall.

Gilbert is the second former five-star recruit to transfer to Gainesville in recent months, joining Clemson running back Demarkus Bowman.

Mullen has found tremendous success in the transfer market during his three years with the Gators, with Grimes (Ohio State), fellow receiver Van Jefferson (Ole Miss), pass rusher Jon Greenard (Louisville) and guard Stewart Reese (Mississippi State) leading the way. Mullen also has Miami running back Lorenzo Lingard, Penn State receiver Justin Shorter and Georgia linebacker Brenton Cox — three former five-star recruits — on the roster and ready to step into bigger roles in 2021.

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