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34 DAYS TO 2019 KICKOFF: James Gilbert

In which BracketCat counts down the 34th day until the 2019 kickoff with a profile of Kansas State running back James Gilbert.

#34 James Gilbert
Just like the forlorn UCLA defense in the 2017 Cactus Bowl, K-State has a gaping hole to fill, this one also caused by Alex Barnes. In this case, the hole was created by his early and perhaps ill-advised defection to the NFL — and the best candidate to try to fill it in 2019 is James Gilbert, who also will wear No. 34 at Kansas State.
Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

#34 James Gilbert

Redshirt Senior | 5-9 | 198 lbs. | Indianapolis, Indiana
James Gilbert
James Gilbert
Courtesy Kansas State Athletics
  • Position: Running Back
  • Previous College: Ball State University
  • Projection: Starter
  • Status: On Scholarship

James Derrick Gilbert (b. Nov. 10, 1995) is an experience, speedy running back who has an early head-start over the other new running backs after enrolling early for spring practices.

Gilbert is a graduate transfer from Ball State who was able to use his redshirt in 2017, despite seeing playing time, after receiving a medical hardship for a season-ending injury.

He will have one season left to play, which means making an immediate impact or bust.

Gilbert played parts of four seasons for the Cardinals, including three games in 2017, when he earned the medical hardship.. He totaled 2,806 career rushing yards to rank seventh in school history and 30 rushing touchdowns to tie for fifth.

Gilbert had 603 career rushing attempts to rank eighth in Ball State history and also caught 21 passes in his career for 165 yards and a touchdown.

He prepped under coach Anthony Henderson at Arsenal Tech, where he was rated the 119th-best running back in the Class of 2015 by 247Sports and the 20th-best player in Indiana by Rivals after setting the school’s career rushing record with 4,817 yards.

Gilbert was named the 2014 Indianapolis Public Schools Player of the Year; earned all-state honors as a senior, while he was a three-time all-city pick; and was voted Arsenal Tech’s Most Valuable Player as a sophomore and junior.

He graduated high school early to join the Cardinals and ended up playing in all 12 games in 2015 as a true freshman, totaling 608 yards and eight touchdowns on 152 carries, the latter two leading the team.

Gilbert had a season-high 73 yards and a touchdown against UMass, a game in which he had two catches for 16 yards, and scored a pair of touchdowns in his first career game against VMI, plus two more at Eastern Michigan, the final one proving to be the game-winning touchdown. He also caught a 19-yard pass against Toledo.

Gilbert played in all 12 games in 2016, with nine starts at running back, en route to first-team All-Mid-American Conference (MAC) honors.

He led the conference and tied for sixth in Ball State history with 12 rushing touchdowns, while he also piled up 1,332 rushing yards to rank fourth in school history, and tallied seven 100-yard rushing games, a mark that is tied for third in school history.

Gilbert rushed for 264 yards against Buffalo, a career high and the second most in school history; set a career high with three touchdowns against Northern Illinois to tie for third in school history; and rushed 251 times on the year, ranking eighth in Ball State history.

He also caught one pass for 18 yards at Central Michigan.

In 2017, Gilbert saw action in the first three games, with two starts, before suffering a season-ending injury.

He rushed 48 times for 207 yards with three touchdowns, including two against UAB, and notched his first career receiving score against Tennessee Tech, a game in which he carded a season-best 92 rushing yards.

Entering the season, he was a member of the Maxwell and Doak Walker Award watch lists.

After receiving the medical hardship waiver, Gilbert bounced back as a redshirt junior in 2018, playing in 11 games with 10 starts and leading the team with 659 rushing yards and seven touchdowns.

He opened the season with a 100-yard effort against Central Connecticut, while he had two-touchdown games against Kent State and Western Michigan, set a career high with four catches for 26 yards against Northern Illinois, and again was a member of the Maxwell Award watch list.