He was a 6-1, 230-pound defensive end who was probably headed to junior college following his senior year at Baldwin County High School. Most major college football prospects who go to junior college are doing so because they didn't get the job done academically in high school. That wasn't the case with Gilberry. He was just one of those guys who got overlooked.
He stole the show in the 2003 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game, recording six tackles and two sacks. And recruiters who had been strangers started calling. Including Alabama's staff with new Head Coach Mike Shula having been on the job only a couple of weeks.
Gilberry took the Alabama offer. He was redshirted in 2003, then played in every game last season. He led the team in tackles behind the line with 12 for 49 yards and had six and a half sacks for another 44 yards in losses. He also had seven quarterback hurries, caused two fumbles, and recorded two fumbles playing behind Todd Bates.
And now he's up to 6-3 and 265 pounds. Wallace is getting pre-season all-star mention, even though he's on the defensive line with another all-star type in returning senior right end Mark Anderson. Gilberry is on the watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end.
"I've been here all summer…all year," Gilberry said recently when meeting with Alabama sportswriters about the upcoming season. "Last summer we had some players who missed summer workouts. This summer the whole team has been there every day. That's each player deciding to do that. We could have been off at a lake somewhere, slacking off."
Most of the summer work is strength and conditioning. "Not just strength, but strength for football," Gilberry said. And there is also football work, five days per week.
While the skill position players are going through pass skeleton work (quarterbacks throwing to backs and receivers against linebackers and defensive backs), the linemen are also working against one another. Summer work can't have coaches involved, so the players coach themselves. "We have to remember what we've been taught and try to apply it. We're going one-on-one with offensive linemen, full speed hands."
Players do not wear any football gear in summer workouts.
Two days a week the defensive linemen get together to watch tape of Middle Tennessee State, the Crimson Tide's first opponent on September 3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. "Rudy (Tide defensive tackle Rudy Griffin) and I went on the internet to get their lineup after spring practice so we'd know them," Gilberry said. "We get on a team's website and scout them."
Gilberry said, "I have respect for MTSU. "Any team has enough players to get good enough to beat you if you let him."
Gilberry said he and his teammates are motivated for 2005. And the reason is 2004. "Six and six is the motivation," he said. "That doesn't cut it at Alabama."