Defensive lineman Zack Gilbert will transfer from Pitt, he announced on his Twitter page on Wednesday. Pittsburgh Sports Now spoke with Gilbert about this emotional decision, one that he didn’t want to make.
”Emotionally, it sucks that it didn’t work out here at Pitt because I would’ve loved for it to,” Gilbert said. “I grew very close with the Pitt community. I do wish that things would’ve turned out different but I listen to my pops talk all the time, take it with a grain of salt and get ready to start a new chapter in my life.”
Gilbert, a member of Pitt’s 2016 recruiting class, was diagnosed with a heart condition that prevented him from participating as a member of Pitt’s football team before his first training camp. When Pitt announced that Gilbert was diagnosed with the condition, they said they hoped that he would be able to undergo treatment and play again.
Gilbert updated his current health status.
”Health-wise, I got completely cleared in Rochester, Minnesota at the Mayo Clinic,” he said. “I got cleared this past Thanksgiving. I went to see Dr. Ackerman, who’s helped a lot of our athletes with the same heart condition I had. My mother and I went there on a hope that he’d clear me and he did. He told us that the chances of anything happening are slim to none and that I’m one of the cases with my enlarged heart that it’s very rare that anything would happen at all.”
After getting this news, Gilbert went to Pitt and tried to re-join the team but was denied.
”They were the first people I contacted to let them know because I wanted to play with my brothers Amir Watts, Phil Campbell, Patrick Jones,” Gilbert said. “I wanted to finally play with my brothers and they told me they’d get back to me. It took a little time and then after New Year’s, they reached out to me to update me where they stood. They said even though I got cleared, they just couldn’t take a chance.”
After hearing the disappointing news, Gilbert was left with mixed emotions.
”It upsets me and it is disappointing, because I feel as though my loyalty got thrown out the window,” he said. “At the same time I understood and I knew that they didn’t want liability. They didn’t want to take a chance even with it being so small.”
A Pitt spokesperson declined to comment on the situation, citing privacy concerns.
The Charlotte, North Carolina native and son of former Pitt great Sean Gilbert, will have to sit out a season if he transfers to another FBS program. It’s unclear if he would be eligible for an extra season or seasons of eligibility due to his medical condition.
”I am very eager to get back on the field,” he said. “At this point, it’s been two seasons and I’m ready to play ball anywhere for whoever is ready to get a diamond in the rough, a sleeper.”