Ball State football got a pleasant surprise last week, when 3 star running back James Gilbert, a former Western Michigan commit, committed to join the Cardinals.
Gilbert had originally given a verbal commitment to play for coach P.J. Fleck's Broncos on May 6. Gilbert talked with the Indy Star about his recruiting process with WMU.
"The coaches were honest and straight-forward with me," Gilbert said of Western Michigan. "I kept in touch with them every day with Facebook, Twitter or just calling them. I had other MAC (Mid-Conference) offers but I felt Western was the best fit for me."
Six weeks later it's coach Pete Lembo's backfield, not Fleck's that Gilbert will be a part of beginning in 2015. The 5-foot-10 190 pound Gilbert was heavily recruited by the MAC. He received offers from Akron, Miami, Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Temple. Gilbert is rated as the 21st ranked running back in the state of Indiana by 247Sports. He made two unofficial visits to Muncie following the Western Michigan commitment, one on June 9, and one on June 16.
Gilbert is a huge pickup for Ball State. At Indianapolis Arsenal Tech he rushed for over 1,800 yards as a sophomore and 1,300 yards as a junior. Last January he, along with other teammates, transferred to Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis. Presently they are appealing a decision ruling them ineligible to play this fall, believing the transfer to primarily for athletic reasons.
After committing to Western Michigan, Gilbert had planned to graduate high school in December, and join the Broncos for practice next spring. It is unclear whether or not that is still his plan with the Cardinals.