The Catoosa County News
Ty Gilbert signs with Jacksonville State University football
Ty Gilbert had a dream to play college football and this past Wednesday, that dream took its first step to becoming a reality when the rangy Ringgold receiver signed a letter of intent to play for perennial FBS power-turned FCS program Jacksonville State (Ala.).
“(This day) means a lot,” said Gilbert, who signed in front of a standing-roomonly crowd in the RHS Score Room. “Just looking back over my four years here, it went by so fast. This has always been my dream, so I’m glad I can get it all over with now and get on with baseball season.”
He said the JSU offer came very late in the process.
“I was actually going to go to a smaller school, one that was more around here, but this past weekend, (JSU’S) receivers coach actually reached out to me and asked me to come down for a visit. I went down there and loved everything about it. I just committed on the spot.”
The two-sport standout was an honorable mention selection in Region 6-AAA as a junior. He had a big season for the 10-win Tigers, especially as a defensive back, as he picked off four passes and returned three for touchdowns. He also had one TD catch and one TD run.
This past season, the 6-foot1, 180-pounder helped the Tigers get back to the state playoffs. He had four more picks on defense, but also turned in an All-region first team season as a receiver with 31 catches for 484 yards and nine touchdowns.
“I can play on the inside or on the outside, at both receiver (spots) for them,” he added. “Plus I’ve got some good height, so I think I can help them out a lot.”
New Ringgold head coach Austin Crisp, who served as the team’s offensive coordinator the past three seasons, said Gilbert had top-notch ball skills and a mind for the game.
“If it came to crunch time, we were going to throw a jump ball to him,” Crisp explained. “That’s something he does really well. He’s a really smart player and understands leverage as a receiver. He’s got great
hands and he’s very athletic in the hips, so he can break off routes really well.”
Retiring head coach Robert Akins said that the Gamecocks were getting a talented player that made big plays and big strides during his Ringgold career.
“He’s become the kind of man we wanted him to be,” Akins said. “Things are different when you get to that level and the competition is going to be very stiff, but I
think he’ll do very well. I’m very proud of him for progressing like he has over the last four years. He’s really grown for us the last few years and has become really outstanding.
“Jacksonville State’s getting an outstanding player that I think is going to be very competitive. I think that work ethic he has will kick in and he’ll do great things there. We’re very proud and excited for him.”
Ringgold head baseball coach Drew Walker said it was the “little things” that would make the difference for Gilbert at the college level.
“He’s got great instincts and great leverage in baseball too, just like football, but everybody’s got talent (in college),” he began. “It’s the intangibles that young men bring to a program, like the commitment, the work ethic and the accountability. He’s not going to bring that just for himself, he’s going to bring it for his teammates and the guys in the receiver room.
“How he blends with those guys and how he’s willing to go about his business on a daily basis, not only with football, but with his life, is what’s going to make the difference and what’s going to make him successful at the next level.”
Gilbert said he plans to major in business and follow in the footsteps of his father, who is himself a business owner.
Jacksonville State, coached by former Arizona, Michigan and West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez, went 9-2 last season and 5-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. It was their first year in the ASUN after moving up from the Fcs-level Ohio Valley Conference.
However, JSU was ineligible for postseason play and the ASUN title due their transition to the FBS.