Versatile playmaker steps in for struggling Flashes


Wide receiver Chris Gilbert tackles Miami linebacker Colin Boucher during Kent State’s homecoming game.

AJ Atkinson

From high school quarterback, to college wide receiver, to defensive back, then back to receiver, senior wide receiver Chris Gilbert will do anything asked of him.

“Wherever I’m playing, it doesn’t really matter,” Gilbert said. “When it comes down to it, I will play any position to win.”


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The experience of playing those positions gives Gilbert experience many other wide receivers do not get.

“Anytime you can play multiple positions like quarterback and (defensive back), you see things from a different perspective,” Hazell said. “I’m sure that’s helped him. I didn’t realize that he has played those other positions. But that will always help you when you can see things out of the quarterback’s eyes, ‘What’s the quarterback thinking?’”

Having been taught defensive back techniques his sophomore year, Gilbert said it makes his job as wide receiver easier because he knows what his defenders will try to do to keep him from getting to the ball.

“You get to know what defensive techniques are out there,” Gilbert said. “You get to know the defense a lot more. I try to spread that around to the wide receiver corps as well. I still talk to our defensive backs about what other teams are talking about just to know the (defensive backs’) lingo on the field.”

Regardless of starting last year in Doug Martin’s system, Gilbert did not start a game in his senior year until Oct. 15 against Miami. Gilbert said instead of feeling hurt, he was just more motivated to work harder in practice and make the most of any opportunity.

“Make the most of any opportunity” he did, as he hauled in a career-high six receptions for 56 yards in that game and was part of Kent State’s longest play of the season when he jumped over two defenders to catch a 25-yard pass from junior quarterback Spencer Keith.

#6 Chris Gilbert | Position: WR

  • Year: Sr./Sr.
  • Hometown: Huntersville, N.C.
  • High School: Hopewell
  • Height: 6’
  • Weight: 205 lbs.
  • Prior to Kent State:

  • First three-time all-conference selection at Hopewell High School
  • Was named Lake Norman Player of the Year as a senior after becoming the first player to rush (1,161 yards, 14 TDs) and pass (1,014 yards, 11 TDs) for over 1,000 yards in the same season.

    2011 Senior Season

  • Posted career highs of six catches and 56 yards recieving in first start of the season against Miami
  • Serves as holder on field goal and extra point attempts
  • 2010 Junior Season

  • Appeared in all 12 games, making three starts
  • Caught 11 passes for 142 yards
  • Had a 46-yard reception in win over Ball State
  • Made two grabs for 23 yards in win over Akron
  • 2009 Sophomore Season

  • Saw action in eight games, mostly on special teams
  • Made a pair of tackles
  • Had a then career-high 46 receiving yards against Ball State on Oct. 30
  • 2008 Freshman Season

  • Appeared in nine games as a backup wide receiver and on special teams
  • Grabbed first career reception on Oct. 11 against Ohio for 17 yards
  • One of only eight true freshmen to earn a varsity letter
  • -From

“He’s done a great job putting himself in a good position to make plays,” Hazell said. “He’s a solid guy. You know that he is going to play hard every single play.”

Hazell said Gilbert has his own role off the field as well.

“He’s always needling somebody,” Hazell laughed. “He’s a jokester. But it’s fun. His teammates like him because he’s like that.”

In a disappointing 1-6 season, laughing and having fun is something the team might need. Gilbert said being able to go back to the basics and clear their mind in last week’s bye week may be just what the team needed.

“I think some of the guys were thinking about too much stuff (before the bye week),” Gilbert said. “I think getting ourselves mentally right and physically will help us a lot through November.”

Hazell said he is also confident in the team’s remaining five games as long as the quarterback position improves.

“Every week where offenses are struggling, it’s the quarterback’s productivity,” Hazell said. “It’s no different here or any other level. The quarterback has to make some plays for you and put you in positions to keep the sticks moving.”

Hazell said his decision on who will start at quarterback Saturday against Bowling Green has yet to be decided. Kickoff between the Flashes and Falcons is slated for 1 p.m. at Dix Stadium.

Contact AJ Atkinson at [email protected]