Garrett Gilbert's football life has seen a healthy portion of different uniforms and leagues, but its latest turn will bring him across a familiar face.
Gilbert was the face of a rising power in Texas, Lake Travis High School, in 2009. He won Gatorade Football Player of the Year, USA TODAY Offensive Player of the Year and Mr. Texas Football. He was the No. 2 quarterback in ESPN's recruiting rankings for the class, and signed with Texas before eventually transferring to Southern Methodist University.
He's since been a part of practice squads for the Rams, Patriots, Lions and Raiders, and appeared in one regular season for the Panthers last season. His strongest body of work came in the Alliance of American Football, where he led the league with 2,152 passing yards and 13 touchdowns as a member of the Orlando Apollos. He likely would have won the league's Most Valuable Player award had it not been for the AAF's abrupt suspension of operations.
Gilbert now goes from lighting up a spring league to the Browns, where he'll enter a quarterback room that features another former Lake Travis star: Baker Mayfield.
As Gilbert was finding his footing in Austin (and later, Dallas), Mayfield was working his way up the depth chart back in Lake Travis. He got his chance during his junior year when he stepped in for the injured starter (future SMU signee Collin Lagasse) and promptly led the Cavaliers to a perfect 16-0 mark and state title. He also capped a run from Gilbert's junior year to Mayfield's senior year that saw the Cavaliers go 86-5 (per MaxPreps.com's records/football-fall-09/schedule.htm)).
Their college experiences followed vastly different paths, with Gilbert transferring to SMU for his final two years of eligibility and Mayfield winning the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma, but only after he too transferred from Texas Tech and twice walked onto Division I FBS programs.
Before Mayfield could leave Lubbock, Texas, for Norman, Oklahoma, he first crossed paths with Gilbert on the field in Dallas when Texas Tech faced SMU. And the two lit it up.
Mayfield finished with a passing line of 43-for-60, 413 yards and four touchdowns (and a rushing touchdown), while Gilbert completed 41-of-62 passes for 388 yards. Lake Travis fans had to be smiling as Mayfield's Red Raiders won 41-23.
Now, after Gilbert's best ball since his redshirt senior year at SMU, the two Cavs are back together with the Browns.