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OSU football: Cowboy cornerback Justin Gilbert has a tall task in Cotton Bowl

Oklahoma State's Gilbert vs. Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham is arguably the best individual matchup of Friday's Cotton Bowl. Physical skill vs. Physical skill.
Oklahoman Published: December 30, 2013


photo - Oklahoma State 's Justin Gilbert (4) celebrates his touchdown with Oklahoma State 's Lyndell Johnson (27) during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University (OSU) and Iowa State University (ISU) at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma State 's Justin Gilbert (4) celebrates his touchdown with Oklahoma State 's Lyndell Johnson (27) during the college football game between the Oklahoma State University (OSU) and Iowa State University (ISU) at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com

ARLINGTON, Texas — On one side of the line of scrimmage will be a massive receiver, boasting a 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame, a strong vertical leap and impressive speed for his size.

On the other side will be a taller-than-average, 6-foot cornerback, who also happens to possess premier speed and athleticism.

Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert vs. Missouri's Dorial Green-Beckham is arguably the best individual matchup of Friday's Cotton Bowl. Physical skill vs. Physical skill.

And for Gilbert, it represents a big-time final task before the dynamic Cowboy cornerback takes his talents to the NFL.

“This is the first time that I get to go against somebody that big this year,” Gilbert said, “and maybe, period, since (former Cowboy star Justin) Blackmon. And he wasn't as big as this guy, so it should be a pretty good challenge for me.”

In many ways, Gilbert's work is already done.

He's surged back into the first-round conversation following his brilliant turnaround season, where he became a Thorpe Award finalist after totaling six interceptions — including two returned for touchdowns — to go with 40 tackles, seven pass breakups and a quarterback hurry.

ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper ranked Gilbert 21st on his most recent big board and as the top senior cornerback available, while colleague Todd McShay put Gilbert 17th on his most recent mock draft and earlier this season called him “the best, most consistent cover corner in college football.”

But shutting down one of the biggest, most physical receivers in the nation in Green-Beckham — the No. 1 national recruit in the 2012 class who led the Tigers with 830 yards and 12 touchdowns as a sophomore this season — would certainly provide scouts with a strong final bit of tape to consider.

Gilbert couldn't compare “DGB” to any Big 12 receiver he's faced this season. Instead, his best preparation has come from matching up against 6-4 freshman teammate Marcell Ateman as much as possible in practice.

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