Artaves Gibson is a new name to many, but to those who know about the 6'1" 210 lb. back out of Mitchell High School in Memphis, Tennessee, he is an impressive back who has garnered the attention of some of the top names in college football. One school that has emerged for him as of late is the University of Illinois.
Gibson is a very physical runner, which is supported by his chiseled physique and intense determination. Many running backs sacrifice speed for size and size for speed, but Gibson is solid in both areas and is not afraid to bring the pain to opposing defenses.
Gibson prides himself on his physicality and says he is, "a hard worker and believe that I have a God-given talent to run the ball. I can read the openings in the line well, and I have good inside vision and breakaway speed."
Gibson didn't know much about Illinois coming into his visit but was immediately impressed upon his arrival.
"I really just wanted to come and get a feel of how it would be. Jon had been telling me that I'd get an opportunity to compete right away. I didn't realize how big the opportunities would be until I got up there and learned more about the program."
During his Illinois experience, Gibson got to meet numerous players and coaches and came away very impressed.
"It was good. Coach (Ron) Zook and Coach (Paul) Petrino made me feel at home as soon as I walked through the door. We looked over some plays, and I felt like I was going through a real good experience. I got to meet one of the quarterbacks (Chandler Whitmer) too, and we watched some of the game film with him."
In addition, Artaves was able to take in the annual spring game. Though the game got off to a bit of a slow start, he felt very optimistic about what was taking place on the field.
"There were a lot of good players on the team. They go with the running game a lot. There were a lot of good plays for running backs."
This attention to the running game really got Gibson's attention. The recent success of Illinois backs like Rashard Mendenhall, Pierre Thomas, and current backs Mikel Leshoure and Jason Ford were also something to which Gibson took a great deal of notice.
"(The success of those backs) has a lot to do with it. It gets notice out to the NFL scouts. They pay attention more and it makes you want to be a part of it."
Gibson's relationship with future Illini Jonathan Brown factors into his recruitment as well.
"Just being around him and knowing the type of guy he is and how much he fell in love with Illinois makes me want to go too. Playing against him and knowing how much of a hard worker he is pushes me more. He helps me out a lot."
Aside from his visit to Illinois, Gibson has visited a few other major schools in recent months.
"I've been to LSU, Memphis, Alabama, and Ole Miss. So far I had the most fun at Illinois. Really I got to spend more time with the players than at any other college I'd been to. It was a different experience to live the college football life for a day."
This experience drew high marks from Gibson, who when rating his visit said, "I'd definitely give it a 10. I got to do everything I wanted to do while I was up there. It was great."