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Oklahoma State football: Justin Gilbert returning for senior season

BY GINA MIZELL, Staff Writer, gmizell@opubco.com Published: January 6, 2013
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STILLWATER — Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert will return for his senior season, a school official confirmed to The Oklahoman Sunday.

The Tulsa World first reported Sunday that Gilbert had told family members he would not enter the NFL Draft and had instead opted to come back to Stillwater for his final season of eligibility.

Gilbert followed up a promising sophomore season in 2011 with a disappointing junior campaign, tallying 63 tackles, zero interceptions, nine pass breakups and one forced fumble. He also averaged 25.8 yards per kick return, including a 96-yarder for a touchdown against West Virginia to set a school record for most kickoff returns for a touchdown in a career (five).

In 2011, Gilbert recorded five interceptions and was the Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP in his first season as a starting cornerback. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

That development and production, combined with elite speed and natural athleticism, prompted immense hype about Gilbert heading into the 2012 season.

Things, simply, did not pan out as expected.

Gilbert was often on the receiving end of outside criticism after a season where he was part of a Cowboy pass defense that allowed 280 yards per game and was often pushed by true freshman Kevin Peterson for playing time.

Cornerbacks coach Jason Jones said Gilbert sometimes put too much pressure on himself. And Gilbert admitted before the Heart of Dallas Bowl he sometimes lacked focus during the season.

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