Gibson names ‘team to beat'

Coming off of a 2,000-yard junior season that included a 400-plus yard performance in one game, Nick Gibson isn't sneaking up on any recruiting radar this spring as he continues evaluating his many options en route to a decision. On Wednesday, he took in practice at Alabama for the first time and revealed a key advantage Nick Saban's program has over the others seeking his signature.

"It's a blessing," Nick Gibson said of all of his recruiting attention.

The Pinson (Ala.) Pinson Valley three-star running back had a big 2013 campaign, notching more than 20 scores and 2,000 yards on the ground, and verbal scholarship offers flew in. They still are, and the Birmingham-area talent feels it now more than ever.

The 5-foot-11, 197-pounder points to a few moments in the recruiting journey thus far that really made him feel like he arrived.

"Just when I walk around my community, the people inspire me to be better," Gibson said. "And with Alabama's offer, too, because my dad is a big Alabama fan. When I got to let him sit in Coach [Nick] Saban's office, it was big for me because it was so big for my dad.

"But there's a lot of moments, to be honest with you."

Dad would have been happy to know that one of the state's best took in the Crimson Tide spring practice on Wednesday, though accompanying his son to Tuscaloosa was clearly more ideal.

"He didn't even know about it, he had called me and cussed me out," he said laughing of his father. "I forgot to tell him, he wanted to go, but I went with my coach. He (Gibson's father) just asked how it went and I said it went great, I got a present for him anyway…"

Alabama, along with Florida State, Mississippi State, Clemson, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky and many others are in on Gibson, and it's the most local extension that is seemingly currently sticking out.

"My recruiting was big ever since the ‘Bama offer, but them being the best team in the country in my eyes is a big pat on the back," he said. "You want to get as many offers as you can, so I'm extremely blessed."

Gibson won Class 5A Back of the Year for 2013 (ASWA).

The offer, earned on a junior day visit last month, may have created a tier system with the offers he has on the table. It's clear who the top two are after asked which team was the one to beat.

"I would say any team could be the team to beat, it depends on how hard they come," he said. "I wouldn't call Alabama the team to beat, it could be Florida State because they just won the BCS National Championship."

Some laughter and a brief pause ensues. Then a change.

"They (FSU) won the BCS, so ‘Bama has something to prove to them," Gibson said. "In my eyes, ‘Bama is the number one team. I'm not going to be difficult, ‘Bama is the team to beat."

With a leader in mind, the goal was clear for the time on campus Wednesday afternoon.

"Building my relationship with the coaches, talking to Nick Saban a little bit," he said. "He was just saying he's glad I came, he wants me to come back any time, practices, A-Day, the games. It was my first time going to a practice, but I've seen everything else at ‘Bama.

"I love the new facilitates, but I wanted to chill with the coaches and hang out."

Gibson also spent time with some players he knows and some at the running back position.

"I know Reuben Foster personally, and I talked to T.J. Yeldon and [Kenyan] Drake," he said. "They just tell me all the advantages I'd have in coming to Alabama. They try to build a relationship with me and tell me why ‘Bama is better than any other school.

"They say it's hard not to be successful, you'll have somebody walking to class with you making sure you get to class on time, you'll eat right, not do too much partying…they let you know ahead of time."

Aside from Derrick Henry's height and some big-time collisions during the first day of padded work for the Tide, making Gibson smile and say "boy, boy, boy," it was the slight differences in Lane Kffin's offense that stood out about the session.

"They were going over the new playbook," he said. "I thought it was difficult and some players did too. The way they run their offense is one I can fit in, it's unique, it's spread, then I-formation, I can't really describe it."

Leaving soon after practice wrapped up, the next step is likely to fellow SEC West program Mississippi State for a return visit and then to Clemson, a school that the 2015 talent has never been to among ones that have offered.

Still hoping to add Auburn to his offer list, Gibson is beginning to see that the end of his recruitment is drawing closer.

"I'll probably verbally commit this summer," he said. "The I'll build a relationship with the coaches, build one with the players and hang around that school. So, probably the summertime."

Adding "I love ‘em," while laughing, of the fans from each school, Gibson is simply enjoying the process. ranks the Pinson Valley product as the No. 74 running back in the class of 2015.

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