California offensive line commit Ryan Gibson may not have been born in the South, but that's where he grew up, and in Mississippi, football is life. So, even though it's a long plane flight, the Gibsons are set on seeing every Cal game for the foreseeable future.
"You know my family's going to be there for every game, though," he laughed after pulling the trigger and committing to the Golden Bears. "It's just a little plane ride away."
The Cal coaching staff celebrated the commitment by throwing up the #SIPP hashtag on twitter, short for Mississippi, the home state of defensive line coach Fred Tate, graduate assistant Jacob Peeler and associate head coach Rob Likens.
"I don't think that really helped my decision, but I think that helped us get along, for sure," Gibson said of the staff's Southern flavor.
"I visited Cal for the second time, and I knew. I knew it was the place." – Ryan Gibson, Cal OL commit
The prestige of the school itself, and Haas Business School, in particular (Gibson want's to major in business, and holds a GPA over 4.1) also played a big part for Gibson's father, as the two visited Berkeley on Wednesday, and spent the better part of six hours on campus.
"He's a partner at Goldman Sachs, and he hires people from Cal all the time, so he knows how prestigious it is," Gibson said. "The football, it's in the Pac-12, it's the No. 1 public university in the world, and it's in one of the greatest places in the world, too. The weather's great. For business, everything's booming in San Francisco. I think it's a great opportunity."
During Wednesday's visit, Gibson and his father found out even more about Haas Business School.
"We met with a professor, so that was really cool," said Gibson, who finished the spring semester with straight A's. "I was probably there for about six hours, and I was with coach Zach Yenser all day. I sat in coach [Sonny] Dykes's office for about an hour, and I just knew. We talked about how he plans to create success in the program, what they're doing differently than last year and how the program's changed since they took the job to now. That impressed me. His track record – by the third year, he's nationally –ranked in the top 15 with every team that he's coached, pretty much, and he's consistently turned teams around, either as an assistant or a head coach. I think the track record is there, and I just knew."
Judging by his academic track record, there's a lot of other handy pieces of information Gibson knows, as well, including how to run the Bear Raid. Of course, in the Tony Franklin System – or Bear Raid – the center has to be the smartest man on the field, because he makes all the calls. Luckily for Cal, Gibson isn't just smart; he's experienced.
"You have to be smart to be the center; that's what they told me," Gibson said. "We run actually the same offense they do, but since I'm taller than any of the other kids, I play tackle. I'm the backup center, so I know all the calls, how to snap and all that, so that's an advantage."
In fact, the offense was a big reason why Gibson committed to the Bears.
"Since the beginning, we've known that [they run the same system], and I love the offense they run," Gibson said. "That was a part of my decision, too."
Even better? Gibson committed on the eve of attending Stanford's prospect camp, starting on Thursday.
"I'm just going to one day of the camp, today. I'm already here, and I already paid for it. I decided that Cal was the place for me, before I went to the camp, so I told them this morning," Gibson said. "I kind of knew when I was taking the visit that this was the place for me. It was my second visit, and everything just kind of went well. I just thought about it over night, and I made my decision this morning."
The Cardinal were just entering the picture, but Gibson's top three were Wake Forest, Cal and Navy, which was close to his heart as he grew up a Navy brat, born in San Diego and having lived in Boca Raton, Fla., Virginia Beach, Va., and finally Bay St. Louis in Mississippi.
"I visited Wake last week, and I've visited Navy my whole life," Gibson said. "There's nothing I've never seen on that campus. I visited Cal for the second time, and I knew. I knew it was the place."
The Midshipmen were a very real option for Gibson, and he thought long and hard about them.
"It was a big option. I grew up a fan. But, I just decided I wanted to play in the Pac-12," Gibson said. "I just decided that Cal was the right place for me. I kind of just visited everything again, and I laid out all my options and felt like Cal had the most to offer me. I was planning on making my decision in the next two weeks, at the most, so I just felt it was the right time."