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November 7, 2011

Gilbert's ready to move on

It was first reported by PonyPride.com on Monday, October 3rd that Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert had visited SMU's football practice that morning. Later in the day, the University of Texas sent out a statement confirming that Gilbert had been given a release from the Longhorns.

After signing with UT in 2009 as a Rivals.com five-star and No.2 ranked quarterback in the country, Gilbert saw playing time as a true freshman behind senior Colt McCoy. The Longhorns had a disappointing season in 2010, going 5-7 with Gilbert as the starter. This year, Gilbert struggled during the second game of the year and fell to third-string by the third game against UCLA. That would mark the end of Gilbert's career at Texas.

"I'm very appreciative of them offering me a scholarship and giving me a chance to play there," said Gilbert, Sunday night. "Texas was where I wanted to play since I was little. For whatever reason, things didn't work out. It's going to be tough leaving all my friends and the relationships that I've made."

Gilbert is still currently enrolled at Texas and is finishing up his 12 hours of classes this semester, working towards his degree in sports management. Since visiting SMU last month, Gilbert restarted his recruiting process and looked for his options for the future.

"Having gone through the recruiting process and being the earliest commitment that you could be in the 2009 class at Texas, I wanted to make sure I thought it through the best I could and make a good decision for myself, my family and my future. When I came home from the visit to SMU, I thought about it for awhile and when I knew that it was the best decision for me, that's when I told coach [Jones] that I wanted to go there."

While Gilbert did not visit any other programs besides SMU during his month-long recruitment, there were some other options that he looked into. Still, after taking a trip to the Hilltop, Gilbert felt like it would be difficult to find a better fit.

"I wanted to stay close to home. I really enjoyed the campus and the people. I enjoyed the coaches and I liked the way they ran practice. It all fit perfectly. It was definitely a place that I could see myself being at. Not only that, I've been able to get a great education here at Texas and SMU is a place I can continue to further that education. It's a great school and I'm very excited about that as well."

In a runaway win against Tulane on Saturday, SMU became bowl eligible for the third consecutive year. It's been evident ever since June Jones got to Dallas in 2008 that he had goals of bringing the program to new heights. Seeing the Mustangs in the midst of a climb back to greatness, Gilbert felt that it was the right time to join the program.

"SMU has a lot of tradition from quite a while ago. For me growing up and hearing about how good they used to be back in the 80's it's cool to see them getting back to winning. Obviously, Coach Jones has success wherever he's been and getting them to consecutive bowls is fantastic. They seem to be a program on the rise. Winning football attracts good football players and that's exciting for anyone who wants to play at SMU. They're doing a lot of good things and getting better each and every week and every year."

The eligibility status of Gilbert is still somewhat unknown. The Austin native will be forced to sit next season due to NCAA transfer rules, and will be available for Jones and his staff in 2013. As far as playing a sixth season, Gilbert said he will eventually pursue the option of gaining a medical redshirt, enabling him to play another year.

In early September, Gilbert did not play the second half in a game against BYU. It was later revealed that the junior had severely injured his right shoulder.

"The way the doctors explained it to me is that loose cartilage had torn in my shoulder joint. I don't know much more than that, it happened so fast. I got the MRI and the next thing I knew I was on the table."

Doctors have told Gilbert that with proper rehab, he should be able to make a 100% recovery. His goal is to be available for spring football although it's too soon to tell when exactly he could return.

"I'm excited about getting up there and having the opportunity to learn this offense and learn from the guys that are already there and the coaches so I can better myself. I'm just looking forward to getting to play football and throwing the football. I'm excited about that and I'm ready for something new."

The projected SMU quarterback depth chart two years from now would be without current starting senior J.J. McDermott and back-up junior Kyle Padron. Gilbert will enroll at SMU this winter and will be attending classes at the future Big East school beginning in January.

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