The first Wednesday in February is no longer the gigantic day it used to be in college football recruiting, but some big things still do happen on this day. In some cases, the spatulas are brought on as flips can happen. Kentucky scored a big recruiting win on National Signing Day.
Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral defensive lineman Kendrick Gilbert had a very busy recruitment over the summer that ended with a commitment to Purdue in August. However, a coaching change re-opened this process and Gilbert decided to not follow position coach Mark Hagen to Louisville. Instead, Kentucky was able to beat out new Purdue head coach Ryan Walters and his new coaching staff in West Lafayette. This was a nice recruiting win for the Wildcats.
Now it’s time to find out what kind of player defensive line coach Anwar Stewart will be adding to his position room. Kendrick Gilbert is a prospect with terrific length and the ability to play multiple positions in Kentucky’s odd man front. If things come together, this is a player with the skillset to contribute playmaking within Kentucky’s defensive scheme.
The first thing that immediately stands out when the tape rolls on Kendrick Gilbert is just the sheer size. This is a prospect that stands at 6-5 with 35-inch arms. That creates a very high ceiling as a pass rusher no matter what position Gilbert settles into at the next level. The 2023 prospect shows some of that potential on tape.
As an edge rusher, Gilbert shows some nimble feet and is able to turn the corner. From there, his physical traits take over as his long reach forces a strip sack. Gilbert is a very raw football player at the moment, but this is a prospect with a very high ceiling. The four-star recruit oozes potential.
Despite being listed at 6-5, Kendrick Gilbert does a good job of playing with knee bend and good pad level. Gilbert is able to get into opposing offensive lineman and play under their pads. That leads to many wins.
Gilbert does a good job of setting the edge on this run play by taking on the pulling right guard without giving any ground and then coming off the block to assist in the tackle for loss. The line of scrimmage prospect is able to be stout at the point of attack and that leads to positive plays for the defense.
There is also play strength flashed on tape by Kendrick Gilbert. The defensive line prospect needs to become more consistent with his get-off on the snap but there is no denying that he has the potential to overpower blockers and be a havoc creator.
On a bull rush against the left tackle, Gilbert is able to run through the lineman and that leads him directly to the quarterback as this pass rush collapses the pocket. Once there, Gilbert is able to finish the play with a sack despite being blocked. There is some intriguing playmaking shown on tape with this prospect.
There’s also some explosiveness. The playmaking potential is real with Kendrick Gilbert.
Kendrick Gilbert fits well in Kentucky’s defense
Under defensive coordinator Brad White, Kentucky is a Cover 3 heavy defense with a multiple front. However, the Wildcats typically play with three-down defensive linemen that are required to plug gaps in the run game and use a controlled pass rush. In that scheme, positional versatility is key.
Kendrick Gilbert is not Deone Walker. However, the midwest native could have similar positional usage in Lexington.
The four-star has legit pass rush potential and that could make him a great fit in Kentucky’s boundary tackle role. However, the newest signee is very stout and carries weight well. With solid play strength, Gilbert could be a good fit at nose tackle for the Wildcats.
Regardless, the fit is obvious for Gilbert in Lexington. Kentucky has found a multi-positional defensive lineman with strong physical traits and playmaking potential. Development will be needed, but this was a big recruiting win for the Wildcats.