Jarron Gilbert went from a fairly anonymous defensive player to a YouTube sensation with the help of a superior gene pool and a leap out of a swimming pool.
Gilbert's pool trick, which has been viewed nearly 700,000 times on YouTube, will be recounted again Saturday during the NFL draft, where the San Jose State defensive tackle is projected to be a late first- or early second-round selection.
"I never expected it would get as big as it did," Gilbert said during a recent phone interview. "It was all anyone wanted to talk about for a while."
Should Gilbert sneak into the first round, he would be the first Spartans player with that distinction since cornerback Gill Byrd in 1983. If Gilbert goes in the second round, he would be in the same company as his father, Daren, the No. 38 overall pick by New Orleans in 1985.
"He's given me a lot of advice and was projected the same way I am, coming out of a similar program," Jarron Gilbert said of his father. "He's helped me keep a level head through the whole process."
Daren, 45, played five years with the Saints before knee and back surgeries ended his NFL career. He played college ball at Cal State Fullerton, which since has dropped football.
Jarron walked on at San Jose State because, despite being an All-Sierra League selection as a senior at Chino High and qualifying academically, he received no scholarship offers.
"I tried not to be a pest, but we went on tour to
It's possible Jarron's football potential was obscured by his participation in other sports. He was an all-league basketball player and handled weight events for the track and field team.
Daren was convinced Jarron had talent — his son was a 235-pound tight end prospect who moved to defense as a sophomore at San Jose State — but didn't realize just how good he was until the spring game that year.
"The coaches came up to me and told me he was going to play on Sundays and that colleges were going to say, 'How did we ever miss him?'"" Daren Gilbert said. "I felt I hadn't been biased in judging his ability, and I felt validated."
Jarron Gilbert's versatility was evident with the Spartans, as he played at both defensive end spots before setting in as a tackle as senior, leading the nation with 22 stops for losses and leading the Spartans with 91/2 sacks.
A big final season, combined with a great week of practice and a solid performance in the East-West Shrine Game, elevated Gilbert's status in the eyes of scouts.
Of some concern is that Gilbert, at 288 pounds, will routinely play against players who outweigh him by 40 or more pounds.
"He's going to put some more muscle mass on that frame, and he was one of the stronger guys in our conference," said Joe Salave'a, San Jose State's defensive line coach and an eight-year NFL veteran.
Also on YouTube are videos of Gilbert squatting 635 pounds and dead-lifting 655 pounds, although they didn't create the buzz of his pool jump.
It happened after Gilbert's strength coach at San Jose State talked about how former NFL safety Adam Archuleta could jump out of two feet of water and land on his feet outside of the pool. Gilbert duplicated it at a friend's apartment, put it on video to prove it, and a star was born.
"I really didn't mind the publicity," Gilbert said. "It turned out to be a pretty good marketing tool."
Contact Jerry McDonald at email@example.com.