The coaching staff put a big emphasis on in-state recruiting for this 2017 class and among their signees is Bryce Gilbert, a 6-foot-5, 230 pound tight end out of Higley High School (Gilbert, AZ). He graduated early and is enrolled in classes at Arizona now, able to get a jump start on his college career.
Gilbert is a three-star prospect ranked No. 886 in the nation and 126 among all wide receivers. He checks in at No. 18 among all Arizona high school prospects.
One of the early summer commits, Gilbert ended his process early largely due to his relationship with tight ends coach Charlie Ragle. He ultimately turned down Arizona State, Louisville, Nebraska, and Oregon State.
"Coach Ragle is my guy, and I just didn't want to leave the state" Gilbert said. "He reminded me of my dad and I’ve always played for my dad. It was so easy for me to make that decision because he was just such a great guy."
"We talked about it and he just loved Arizona,” Higley offensive coordinator Joe Ortiz told me about Gilbert’s recruitment back in September. “I thought maybe Nebraska, even ASU, but he loves Arizona.”
I got the chance to watch Gilbert play this season against St. Mary’s (Phoenix, AZ), whose defensive gameplan was clearly to take the tight end out of the game, double teaming him all night. On the Higley sideline was his future coach, Charlie Ragle, who said he loves what Gilbert can bring to his group.
Out here at Higley High watching Arizona commit Bryce Gilbert. He looks every bit of 6-foot-5 230 pounds pic.twitter.com/6biqj8tmQf— Gabe Encinas (@Gabe_Encinas) September 3, 2016
Gilbert had a standout junior season, bringing in 65 catches for 1,056 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a senior, he battled through injuries before being shut down for the season. He finished with 15 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns.
The three-star prospect will join Trevor Wood, Brion Anduze, and Jamie Nunley as the Wildcats continue to develop the tight end role. Three-star 2017 signee Bryce Wolma will also join the group this summer upon high school graduation.