Position - Running Back
Height - 5-foot-10
Weight - 190
Year - Freshman
Hometown - Indianapolis, Ind.
High School - Arsenal Tech
James Gilbert is getting an opportunity this spring that most freshmen don't have.
Gilbert, a freshman running back, graduated from Arsenal Tech High School in December 2014 and began classes at Ball State in the spring 2015 semester. He is working with the team in spring practice to try and get a leg up in the team's starting tailback competition.
“It's been a part of my plan since my sophomore year in high school,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert was a standout in high school, as he set Arsenal Tech's all-time rushing record with 4,817 yards. He was an all-state player as a senior.
Gilbert will participate in 15 spring practices that other incoming freshmen won't be able to since he graduated in December. He will also participate in the Cardinals' spring game on April 18.
Gilbert is competing with redshirt freshman Spencer Gilbert, sophomore Darian Green and junior Teddy Williamson for the starting role. The void was left by the graduation of record-setting back Jahwan Edwards and the career-ending injury of Horactio Banks.
Head Coach Pete Lembo has been impressed with James' valuable practice time.
“There's some great intangibles there and he's taken advantage of everyday to get better,” Lembo said. “He's very coachable and he's got a ways to go, but we've seen a lot of good signs.”
Lembo added that James is an explosive player, and he also admires his "great leg drive" and how he runs with low pad level.
“I can bring running between the tackles - like tough yardage,” James said.
In addition to working on the field and in the weight room, he is also getting extra time to study the playbook and get acclimated to the scheme that the Cardinals run.
While other players use the spring to polish their games, James is looking to make a case for why he could help the team right away.
James said he thinks he can bring something to the game that can fill Ball State's current hole in the backfield.
The spring practice schedule is short, but Lembo is impressed with James' dedication to graduate early and join the Cardinals as they begin their 2015 season.