Wisconsin will be without one of its best pass-rushers this season, as the school announced Friday that senior defensive end David Gilbert was giving up football because of recurring foot injuries.
Gilbert missed most of the 2011 season because of problems with his right foot and was sitting out spring practice this year as he recovered from surgery to repair ligaments in the same foot.
“This was a difficult decision for me. but I have had multiple injuries and surgeries on my foot and feel that no longer playing at UW is the best decision for me,” Gilbert said in a statement released by the school. “I have been dealing with pain in my foot since the injury first occurred, and I just need to give it time to fully heal.
Gilbert led all Badgers defensive linemen with 42 tackles last year and finished second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss. He was fourth on the team in sacks with four and also caused three fumbles, including one in the Big Ten championship game.
The plan was to have the 6-foot-4, 247-pound Gilbert line up at outside linebacker when Wisconsin went to its 3-4 scheme this fall. He was viewed as maybe the best pure pass-rusher on the team when healthy.
“David’s decision was part of an on-going discussion we have had for a number of weeks,” head coach Gary Andersen said in a statement. “I would have loved the opportunity to coach David, but we always want to do what’s in the best interests of the young man. He needs a year to recover from his injuries and focus on graduating. It is always tough when a young man’s college career comes to an end due to an injury but David knows we are here to support him in any way necessary.”
Gilbert is probably best remembered by casual fans for making critical comments about Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez before last year's regular-season meeting in Lincoln. Those comments earned him a spot on the bench at the start of the game. But he also had a sack and a forced fumble in that loss to the Huskers and played well in the rematch for the Big Ten title.
Wisconsin's defensive line still has depth and experience, as it returns starting tackles Beau Allen and Ethan Hemer, as well as Pat Muldoon, Tyler Dippel, Warren Herring and Bryce Gilbert. Redshirt freshman Vince Biegel has been playing outside linebacker with the first string this spring.