CANTON, Ohio — When the Pittsburgh Maulers looked to nab a championship, they looked to a star cornerback, who had to the league from the Pittsburgh Steelers, in Mark Gilbert. Gilbert helped lead the forefront of the USFL’s top defense, leading the league in interceptions with four.
While the Maulers did not win the championship after suffering defeat at the hands of the Birmingham Stallions, it seems that Gilbert has done enough to earn his shot back into the NFL. That could be with Pittsburgh or it could end up with another team this time around. Regardless, Gilbert may have been the best cornerback in the entire league, giving him a spot at the table for when the NFL starts calling. But it was the environment around multiple other players who could get calls that Gilbert credits his success to on the season.
“Credit to the other 10 guys I’m playing with, I just make the plays that come to me,” Gilbert said. “They’re confident that I can make the plays that come to me. But that confidence makes me go out there and do my part. It’s my 1/11. I can’t do what I do if I don’t have a good pass rush or don’t have safeties that are communicating with me. I do go out there and make the play, but there’s so much before that goes on before my success.”
There is a bond that the team grew off the field that simulates exactly what would happen across an NFL season, too. Gilbert, with the Steelers, experienced that when he was on the team’s practice squad after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Duke.
“This season just allowed us to become so close off the field,” Gilbert said. “We aren’t the same team we were the first week of the year. We grew throughout the entire season.”
Now, those guys might go their separate ways with the NFL looming. Gilbert should be one of those names that ends up in an NFL training camp. With ballhawking skills and experience in the NFL under him, he could have a serious chance to compete for a roster spot after holding one with the Detroit Lions for a sizable amount of time.