When Rob Gronkowski retired from the New England Patriots on Sunday, the move was met with two immediate questions: 1) Is he the greatest tight end of all time? (he’s certainly a contender) and 2) How will the Patriots replace him?
The answers to those questions are maybe (we vote yes) and they won’t … at least not yet. That’s because there isn’t another 6-foot-6 talent like Gronk available in the current NFL or among the crop of players coming in. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a player like that somewhere, playing at some level.
In fact, he might be competing in the shadows of Gronkowski’s most recent and final triumph in Super Bowl LIII.
Arik Gilbert is currently a junior at Marietta (Ga.) High School. He’s alraedy 6-foot-5 and 250+ pounds, nearly Gronk’s 6-foot-6 and weight. And Gilbert is an absolute athletic freak, a five-star athlete prospect more because he’s so athletic he’s seen as a versatile fit in roles beyond just being a tight end.
Gilbert is already flashing some of Gronk’s trademark athleticism and tremendous hands, too. But don’t take our word for it:
Naturally, because Gilbert is currently only a high school junior, any projection of where he’ll be in a minimum of four years is foolish, but it’s worth listening to Gilbert himself when asked how he envisions his football future.
Gilbert, who is also a varsity basketball player for Marietta, has yet to commit to a school, or even name a firm leader (though Georgia and Alabama are considered firm favorites for his signature, as you might expect). For now he’s focused on excelling at The Opening Finals, and then in his senior high school season. Win there? And it’s only a matter of time before even more Gronkowski comparisons arise.