BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
Jarron Gilbert wasn't widely recruited out of high school.
The only offer the then 235-pound tackle/tight end prospect received out of Chino (Calif.) High School was from San Jose State, and he snapped that up without hesitation. It's been a match made in heaven.
Gilbert, after a redshirt season in 2004, moved to defensive tackle with positive results. The 6-foot-6 Gilbert, who gained 45 pounds in four years, enjoyed his best season in 2007 when he racked up 39 tackles and four sacks last season, tops among the Spartans' defensive linemen. Also, his 20 career tackles behind the line ties him with Hawaii linebacker Solomon Elimimian, the preseason Western Athlete Conference Defensive Player of the Year. That's not bad company to be in.
Despite the success, the Spartans are making another change in 2008, moving him to defensive tackle full time to make room for USC transfer Jeff Schweiger at defensive end.
"At the end of last season (Gilbert) played defensive tackle and did a nice job," SJSU coach Dick Tomey said. "I think he's flexible enough to make the change. Defensive end is probably the strongest spot on the (defensive) team. The front is better than any defensive line since I've been here."
Tomey went on to explain that it was a way to get his best athletes-players on the field.
Gilbert wasn't the only defender to make a move. Defensive end Justin Cole was moved to linebacker from defensive end.
Gilbert admits it's a challenge.
"It's a little tough," he said. "I'm used to being over the tight end. Now I'm going against guards and tackles " 700 pounds combined. That's a lot of mass to deal with. I'm comfortable playing at the weight I'm at."
Gilbert has great athleticism, which enabled him to play some high school basketball in Chino, where he earned all-league honors.
He played a lot of pick-up and AAU basketball with a name familiar to Nevada basketball fans, JaVale McGee, who is Gilbert's cousin.
"He is the closest thing I have to a brother," Gilbert said of McGee. "He's always been real self-conscious about his height. We'd go to a mall, and people would stare at him. That's why he's so quiet.
"During the summer we played in travel tournaments. In junior high we were the same height. He sprouted him when he was 16 or 17. He shot up close to 7 feet and I couldn't hang with him anymore. He was 6-7 when he was 14. As soon as he got to 7 feet you knew he would have a future in basketball."
Gilbert is hopeful of playing at the next level and following in the footsteps of his dad, who had a brief career with the New Orleans Saints.
- Contact Darrell Moody at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 881-1281
THE JARRON GILBERT FILE
Year in school: Senior
Hometown: Chino, Calif.
Position: Defensive tackle
Height/weight: 6-6, 280