Gilbert opts out of rest of season, Orgeron not sure is WR will return

Scooter Hobbs

The way LSU’s news has been going lately, it could have been worse.

But the Tigers went 1-for-2 in keeping the Marietta, Georgia, freshmen in the fold, head coach Ed Orgeron confirmed Wednesday.

Tight end Arik Gilbert, the star of last year’s recruiting class, is opting out on the season, although Orgeron said he is hopeful Gilbert will return.

Under NCAA rules adopted during the coronavirus pandemic, players may opt out this season without adversely affecting their scholarships.

However, Gilbert’s high school teammate, defensive end B.J. Ojulari, who was rumored to be leaving, is still practicing with the team, Orgeron said, and will play Saturday when the Tigers (3-5) visit No. 6 Florida (8-1). LSU, the defending national champion, is one loss from its first losing season since 1999 with two games remaining.

“Arik and I had a good conversation (Monday),” Orgeron said on the SEC coaches teleconference. “He told me he was opting out. He said his body was hurting and he had some things he had to take care of.”

Gilbert, last year’s Gatorade High School Player of the Year, is the ninth Tiger to opt out of playing since August.

He joined star receiver Terrace Marshall, who left the team last week, and receiver Ja’Marr Chase; cornerback Kary Vincent; defensive ends T.K. McLendon and Travez Moore; and defensive tackles Siaki “Apu” Ika, Tyler Shelvin and Nelson Jenkins.

Gilbert, an instant starter, has 368 yards receiving on 35 catches. That was second on the team in receptions behind only Marshall with 48 catches for 731 yards.

Orgeron said he hasn’t given up on Gilbert, however. He said he would re-recruit him and would welcome him back.

“Do I think we have a chance of getting him back next season? Yeah,” Orgeron said. “Is there a chance of him transferring? I don’t know that. He hasn’t told me that he’s transferring. Obviously, we’re going to re-recruit him. We wish him the best. Take care of the things he has to take care of, and we would like him to be back next year.”

Minus Gilbert, the likely starter is another true freshman, Kole Taylor, who has one reception for 3 yards.

Ojulari, who’s started one game but is active in the defensive line rotation, with his five tackles for loss third on the team.LSU tight end Arik Gilbert against Arkansas during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Michael Woods / Associated Press

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