Kenton Gibbs Will Remember UI Interest

A large contingent of Detroit Cass Tech athletes visited the Fighting Illini's Saturday practice as part of a Junior Day. Among them was defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs, who was excited to receive his first Big 10 offer from Illinois. He enjoyed his time on campus and looks forward to a return trip.

Kenton Gibbs feels a close place in his heart for Illinois after Coach Tim Beckman and his staff offered him a scholarship Saturday.

"I'm really excited. I won't forget this come signing day. It was the first Big 10 school to show me love."

Despite the long trip from Detroit, Gibbs able to enjoy his time on campus.

"The visit was real fun. The coaches and players, it was a great atmosphere. At the Big Ten level, everybody has great facilities. Everybody has good staff on it. But the big thing is, you're going to be around the players and the coaches. The players and coaches are real cool people."

Illini defensive line coach Keith Gilmore graduated from Cass Tech and would also be Gibbs's coach if he attends Illinois.

"Coach Gilmore seems like an excellent coach. He told me he was the only one left after the coaching change. On top of that, my old teammate Kenny (Nelson) he said he's good people. And if Kenny thinks that, he can't be too bad of a guy."

With the large group of junior prospects on campus, no one received an extended visit from Beckman. But Gibbs was able to interact briefly.

"We went up to the player's lounge. I got to talk to the head coach. Everything was good."

Gibbs hopes to visit again soon. Besides wanting to see more of campus, he has an ulterior motive.

"I'm definitely coming back up there for a visit. Me and (Nathan) Scheelhaase definitely have unfinished business. We was on the Wii, and he thought he could beat me."

The 6'-2", 280 pounder believes his work ethic is his best trait.

"I feel like I'm an all-around player. I could play the pass and be a pass rush specialist if they need me. I could stop the run if they need me.

"I may not be the most talented, the quickest or the biggest lineman. I might not be 6'-6", but I will be the hardest worker. I will work as hard as I can to be the best I can be. Nobody will ever need to question my effort."

Quality academics is always a big reason for selecting a college. Gibbs wants to major in Finance with plans to become a stockbroker. But he also has football priorities.

"The most important things to me for college are your defensive line coach, the head coach and the defensive philosophy, as well as the players I'm playing with."

Gibbs and his teammates celebrated a special 2011 season, but he wants even more this fall.

"We won the state championship last year. We weren't undefeated. This fall, the senior leadership of the team will be real good. All the all-Americans we have to replace from the start of last year, all our Division 1 players, our replacements and our transfers are going to help us make another run for the state championship. Hopefully this year we can go undefeated all the way."

Gibbs has several more spring visits planned. It all depends on the generosity of his coach, who provides transportation for his players.

"We're going to Iowa, we're going back to Michigan, and we're definitely going to Ohio State. I don't really know about these things. They just tell me at the last minute, and I decide whether or not to visit. Having a ride to these places is a definite blessing."

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