“There were some times when I just got zoned out, just floating into coverage. Whenever I went back and watched film, I could see it.”
Gilbert singled out the 32-yard deep ball to Mike Davis he allowed, which helped set up Texas' game-winning touchdown, as the moment he felt the worst this season. And an interception that bounced off his hands at Baylor was the moment that most summarized all the frustrations.
But despite those struggles, Jones has still seen Gilbert make strides as a junior.
A high school quarterback, Gilbert had to learn how to play cornerback as a true freshman and was thrown into a starting role as a sophomore. Now, Jones said, Gilbert understands the intricacies of the position much better. Not just the technique of what to do, but why to do it.
And even with OSU's secondary troubles against Oklahoma and Baylor in its last two games, Jones said that's where Gilbert played his best. In those contests, he matched up against Kenny Stills and All-American Terrance Williams.
“He started doing some good things,” Jones said. “And sort of got back to his old self.”
Jones said that's carried over to the bowl practices, where Gilbert has gotten to refocus on the basics. And he expects Gilbert to play well Tuesday against Purdue.
Then, Gilbert will rely on his family and draft projections to help him make a decision about his future.
ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper currently ranks Gilbert as the fifth-best junior cornerback prospect. He's a player who would excel at the NFL Combine, based on his blazing speed and freakish athletic ability. But during interviews with teams, he'd have to continuously answer questions about why his production regressed this season.
Jones, of course, hopes Gilbert returns to OSU for one more year.
“What he did his sophomore year is just the beginning,” Jones said. “I think he has a huge upside. And I think (with) one more year, he'd have a chance to show just what he's capable of doing.”