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Top 25 MAC Football Players of 2018: #3 Ulysees Gilbert III, LB, Akron

It’s hard to be so steadily consistent at the collegiate level, but Gilbert has made it look easy.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Akron David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Ulysees Gilbert III (yes, that’s two e’s), the six-foot-one, 235 lb. will linebacker out of Ocala, Florida, has been the model of conistency for the Zips as head coach Terry Bowden contines the eternal rebuild in Akron.

It was only just earlier this decade that Akron bottomed out at three straight 1-11 seasons and Zips fans lost hope for the future. After that fateful 2012 season, the Zips under Bowden slowly build up talent to take the Zips back to a level of competitveness in the MAC which hadn’t been seen in northeast Ohio since the Zips pulled off a miracle upset in the 2005 MAC Championship game as a 7-5 division winner.

Gilbert has helped lift the Zips out of that hole with stellar defensive play. Gilbert’s talent is undeniable; he’s played in every game he’s been eligible for from the time he was a true freshman in 2015 and has started every game since his sophomore season. Over his career, he’s acumulated 274 total tackles and has been named to the All-MAC First Team at the linebacker position for both seasons as a starter in 2016 and 2017.

The 2017 season was especially impressive, as Gilbert tallied up 141 total tackles (58 more than the second-place Zip and good for 15th in the country), 9.5 tackles-for-loss, five sacks, five QB hurries, four pass breakups, three breakups, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, and two defensive touchdowns. Coincidentally, the Zips won the MAC East for the first time since 2005.

Gilbert has proven to be a defensive dynamo, showing a balanced game between rush and pass coverage with an athleticism which allows him to create plays on his own, even if he may be initially beaten on a play.

2018 will prove to be a pivotal moment for Gilbert and the Zips, as they seek to defend the MAC East title in a division where they’re not seen as a major player for the honor. It’ll be a pivotal moment for Gilbet too, who looks to impress pro scouts by building on an already stellar resume for a potential invite to the next level as a prospect.