UW's Gilbert to have surgery, miss spring

Foot problems cost Wisconsin's David Gilbert most of the 2011 season.

The hope is Friday's surgery will prevent Gilbert from missing any meaningful time when the games begin this fall. Gilbert, who started at defensive end last season, but will play more outside linebacker in the team's new set, will undergo surgery to repair ligament damage in his right foot and miss the rest of spring practice.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Gilbert has had the injury since the fourth game of last season. Although he appeared in all 14 contests (13 starts) and recorded 9.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three forced fumbles, the issue hasn't gone away and Gilbert hasn't participated in Wisconsin's first few spring workouts.

From the State Journal:

"We thought it was just turf toe, but it's something a lot worse," Gilbert said Wednesday. "We're just going to try and get it fixed and get back for the season. ... But I feel very good about it. It's something people have had, so I'm not too worried about it."

Gilbert saw an orthopedic specialist in Minneapolis on Tuesday and learned the injury was more serious than originally thought. He will return to the same specialist for the surgery.

The 6-foot-4, 247-pound senior twice broke his right foot during the 2011 season, missing all but four games. He hopes to return by June, but placed no timetable on his recovery, noting that rehab this time will be "very discretionary" because he's entering his final season.

Gilbert has looked forward to playing in Wisconsin's new defense, which will operate from the 3-4 much more than the previous scheme. But like several other projected defensive starters dealing with injuries -- linebacker Ethan Armstrong (shoulder), defensive tackle Beau Allen (ankle) and defensive end Brendan Kelly (undisclosed) -- Gilbert will have to master the mental elements of the new scheme before returning to the field for fall camp.