Buford, Ga.--For a lot of the prospects on hand for Sunday’s Atlanta Opening the day was all about trying to get a ticket to Oregon for the National Opening competition.
That wasn’t the case for talented 2018 prospect Richard Jibunor. He saw it was a chance to compete against the best of the best.
Lining up at linebacker, wide receiver and anywhere his team needs him at Athens, Ga., Christian, the 6-3, 206 Jibunor decided to step outside of his comfort zone by playing defensive end.
All he did was earn position MVP honors despite only learning many of his pass rush moves on Sunday.
“It felt great,” Jibunor said. “I have been looking for a place I could compete. Coming into the camp I signed up as a linebacker, but when I came out here I saw the kind of tackles they had, they had some of the best tackles in the state out here. They had the best from Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia here and I was like ‘I’m going to go as a defensive end today’.
“I explained everything to the coaches and they told me they would teach me some stuff. They taught me some techniques and my speed was a very big factor. I was just using the techniques I could remember and my lean and my speed was getting me through.”
You can see Jibunor's muscle mass with still plenty of room to add size on the next level
Despite his inexperience at the position other than some blitzing from his linebacker position last season, Jibunor said he couldn’t pass up the chance to take on the big boys on Sunday.
“Most of the time when I visit colleges I see them around,” Jibunor said of some of the offensive linemen. “I looked up and they were all here. My coach was like, ‘Hey Richard, come work at linebacker.’ I told him ,‘Coach, I need to compete. I don’t care if they beat me I have to compete.’ I had to see what they had over there.”
Something that helped Jibunor on Sunday was his active and violent hands. That’s not something normal for a player on his first foray into playing defensive line, but Jibunor said he had an ace in the hole.
“Lots of time I practice boxing,” he pointed out. “I learned that from that. Coach taught us some hand movement, but I was reading their feet first. They were already scared of my speed so when I got into them I could see his balance and where he was out of place. I just used that advantage.”
Planning to take visits to Auburn, Alabama, and Tennessee in the coming weeks, Jibunor said all three are teams he’s very interested in and he’s looking forward to continuing to learn more about each program.
Camping with the Tigers last summer and back again for a recent visit, Jibunor said he feels comfortable on the Plains and that’s a big deal for him.
“It’s a great program, great teammates, great football players and a great coaching staff,” Jibunor said. “I just like it. It’s a wonderful fan base. A nice campus and good academic environment. They’ve got a lot.”
As for Alabama and Tennessee, he said he gets a similar feel for both programs as well.
“It’s the same thing,” Jibunor said of the Crimson Tide. “Alabama has pretty much the same thing. They have a very high competition level. The way the coaches have planned on using me, they like me a lot. Tennessee is the same thing.”
Jibunor said he’s trying to make a decision before his senior year. That means taking more visits this spring to help him narrow things down to his final school.