We all saw Garrett Gilbert, the true freshman quarterback for the University of Texas, walk onto the national stage in the biggest game of his life against the nation’s best team, the Alabama Crimson Tide and nearly win the national championship all on his own. If not for a few plays, and a few calls that didn’t go their way, could we have been talking about the freshman that came out of nowhere to replace an injured Colt McCoy.
We also know about the Garrett Gilbert who was all but run out of Austin thanks to injuries and some rough performances for the burnt orange. He left the Longhorns and ended up a few hours north in Dallas, Texas, and the campus of Southern Methodist University.
After a rough 2012 season for the former Longhorn, completing just over 50 percent of his passes (53%), throwing as many interceptions as touchdowns (15), and a quarterback rating (105.48) that didn’t even put him in the top 100 quarterbacks in college football. However, the 2013 season becomes a completely different story.
Gilbert was much improved from his debut season. His completion percentage increased more than 13 percent (53 to 66.3), his touchdowns went from 15 in 2012 to 21 in 2013 while his interceptions dramatically decreased from 15 in 2012 to just seven in 2013. The biggest jump for Gilbert was his passing yards per game, going from 225.5 in 2012 to 352.8 in 2013. That number was good for fourth best in the entire nation behind Washington State’s Connor Halliday, Oregon State’s Sean Mannion and Fresno State’ Derek Carr.
With everyone talking about guys like Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, and Blake Bortles, there is little to no hype surrounding Gilbert. It’s something that his head coach, June Jones, is trying to change saying it’s the best pro day he’s witnessed since Jeff George, then at the University of Illinois, put on a clinic at his pro day back in 1990. Where will his quarterback end up?
“Somebody is going to take him in the third round,” said Jones, “second round, maybe fourth round and get a guy who is going to play 15 years in the league.” That’s high praise from Jones but let’s not forget the SMU head coach not only has experience in the college coaching ranks but he’s also been in the NFL, with the Houston Oilers, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers, and knows what coaches and scouts look for in quarterbacks heading into the next level of their football career.
Gilbert may certainly not be a first round quarterback and he may be skipped over as a second round pick, but even Tom Brady, then at the University of Michigan, was passed over through the first five rounds before being taken in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Did anyone expect Brady to become what he has and have the kind of career, not to mention Super Bowl titles, he’s had now heading into the 14th year of his career?
I won’t make the comparison between Brady and Gilbert as they are nowhere near similar to each other. But just because you may not believe in Gilbert now, doesn’t mean he won’t make you a believer later.
First round picks aren’t the automatic Hall of Famers.