ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart said Arik Gilbert’s status remains uncertain this week.
“He’s going to be day-to-day throughout the week,” Smart said on Monday, asked to update Gilbert’s status after the talented tight end did not make the trip to South Carolina.
“All I can say is he didn’t make the trip for personal reasons” Smart said after the Bulldogs’ 48-7 win in Columbia. “I’m hoping he gets back with us.”
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Gilbert sat out last season while dealing with personal issues after transferring back to his home state of Georgia after his freshman season at LSU.
Smart explained on his coach’s show last Thursday night how hard he works to help players adjust to a football culture that might not be for everybody.
“You sign (players) into your family, and I look at all the players as our family members and we’re going to do everything we can to make them more successful in life because they chose to come here,” Smart said. “And we owe that to them by them choosing to come here.”
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Playing and thriving in Georgia’s intense football environment is very challenging, as Smart pointed out when discussing how players are chosen.
“We always say, ‘is he a Georgia guy? Is he a guy that likes contact, who wants to practice hard and can handle tough coaching,” Smart said, “because if they can’t, we are better off not bringing them here in the beginning, and we’re trying to find players that fit our culture.”
Gilbert originally committed to transfer to Florida after leaving UGA before deciding to return to his home state and play in a championship program.
Smart has done what he can to develop Gilbert, monitoring him closely.
“I’m always a lot more concerned with Arik’s well-being, mentally, than his well-being just on knowing assignments and what to do,” Smart said during preseason camp.
“That’s the most important thing is that he feels comfortable with our team and can help us.”