As National Signing Day quickly approached, Marlow senior Jace Gilbert patiently waited for the phone to ring.
The top placekicker in Oklahoma held several offers from smaller schools and preferred walk-on offers and strong interest from several Power Five schools.
His patience paid off last week when he received a scholarship offer from Iowa State. Gilbert previously held a preferred walk-on offer from head coach Matt Campbell and the Cyclones.
“I went up there in June when they had a specialists camp,” said Gilbert. “I also got a chance to go up there in November when they played Texas at home. I really enjoyed the game-day atmosphere. I really liked everything about the program.”
“I always thought that was where I wanted to go,” added Gilbert about the Cyclones. “I couldn’t really do it as a preferred walk-on, but when Coach Campbell called and offered me a scholarship, I knew that was where I needed to go.”
Gilbert was drawn to similarities he found between his small Class 2A high school and the Big 12 school.
“I thought a lot of things around their program and their culture somewhat resembled the high school program I come from,” said Gilbert. “Special teams are very high priority at Iowa State.”
Gilbert was also the starting quarterback for the undefeated Outlaws, who knocked off top-ranked Washington 17-13 in the Class 2A state championship game in December. He had a hand in scoring all of his team’s points, recording a passing touchdown, a rushing score and a 33-yard field goal.
The hard-fought victory was the school’s first football title since 1964. On the season, Gilbert completed nearly 80 percent of his passes, throwing for 28 touchdowns and rushing for 17 more scores.
“It was unbelievable,” claimed Gilbert about winning a state championship. “I’m convinced that Marlow has the best fans in the state. The support we got from the fans in the playoffs was awesome. I think we had nearly 6,000 fans at UCO for the championship game. We don’t even have that many people in the town. It was crazy!”
With the Cyclones getting a kicker with experience at quarterback, they might want to consider adding some fake punt and field goal plays to their playbook.
“I’m hoping they’ll let me throw it,” said Gilbert with a laugh, “but we’ll see.”