Getting to Know Thaddeus Gibson

By now you are well acquainted with Euclid High School's five-star linebacker, Thaddeus Gibson. The fast, hard-hitting, Ray Lewis-type prospect is being courted by some of the most prominent schools in the country, and has narrowed his list down to four schools: Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Miami (Fla).

While Thaddeus Gibson admitted that he has loved the attention he has received, he stressed that his current commitment and focus was on his team and the upcoming season, which opens this Friday against fellow Division I-A prospect quarterback Rick Stanzi and Lake Catholic High.

"I love the attention, but I really just focus on what I'm doing now as far as school and high school football," said Gibson on Tuesday. "We're looking real good…real good. I'm playing a little receiver too and I'm also returning kicks. What I'm doing now is just [working on] technique and just learning the plays like the back of my hand…trying to get the team on the same level as I am."

There has been a lot of speculation as to which university Gibson will attend, and with a friend and former teammate, Brandon Smith, playing football for Ohio State University, and his coaches encouraging him to make an early commitment, there have been rumors that Gibson would commit to the Buckeyes prior to the start of the season. While the possibility still remains for Gibson to commit to Ohio State early in the season, he made it clear that the Buckeyes are not the only team he is seriously considering.

"Not at all," said Gibson, when asked whether his recruitment is a one-horse race. "That's all you hear, everyone goes to Ohio State, you know. You want to be different."

The pressure of playing for the in-state Buckeyes is something that Gibson has become accustomed to, and has occasionally been able to get a laugh from.

"I was at the store the other day, and I locked my keys in my car. I called the police and asked them to come over and help me get my keys out. I had my Euclid football shirt on, and he [the officer] asked whether I was on the football team, and I said ‘yeah'. Then he asked if I knew the guy Thaddeus Gibson," said Gibson pausing to chuckle, "and I said ‘well that's me!'. So he said ‘are you ready to continue your legacy at Ohio State?'"

While Gibson acknowledges that there is a large amount of pressure for him to sign with the in-state Buckeyes, he is quick to emphasize that his family will be his primary concern when considering a university.

"Man, I have a great family. My mom is the greatest person ever, I think. She's really just taught me how to, you know…[I] really can't describe it! I really have a great family and I'm around them all the time. We're just there for each other."

Is Gibson's family predominately Ohio State fans?

"I would say so," said Gibson. "My uncle loves Ohio State, and he really wants me to go to Ohio State. I have a lot of family that loves watching football so that's one of the reasons I wanted to stay close."

If Gibson decides to attend an out-of-state university, will it create a civil war in his family? "Oh man!" laughed Gibson, pausing briefly to consider the consequences.

But still he maintained that location is not as big a factor as some people think; and considering the fact that he's the first member of his family to compete in major college athletics, he believes his family will support whichever team he chooses.

"They [family] are just all over me," said Gibson. "They will all be fans [of whichever school he chooses]. They may hate it but they'll be it, [and] my mom is relocating with me."

While family is Gibson's primary concern, he also has expressed an interest in playing early, if possible. He spoke briefly about the chance to play early and what he was looking for in each team's current linebacker depth.

"Well I'm not worried about competition," Gibson said. "I'm just going to work my hardest to beat that person out, whoever it may be. So I really don't even pay attention to that anymore. Just where I feel comfortable. Well…not too many linebackers," added Gibson, stopping to think about the question for a moment, "but three or four coming in…I'm not really worried about it."

Iowa fans have been quick to check their enthusiasm over Gibson's interest in the Hawkeyes, but it was clear that Gibson has nothing but respect for the whole program.

"You look at Iowa and they are just dominating. I believe they won the Big Ten a few times the last couple of years. My individual coach, his coach at Alleghany (PA) University was Coach [Ken] O'Keefe and he tells me a lot of great things about him and Iowa's program in general and how great of football they're playing down there and how they're just coming up."

While Gibson hasn't yet talked with the coaches at Iowa, they have been writing him letters and are letting him know that he is a top priority in this year's recruiting class. When asked if he thinks Iowa will over the next few years begin to challenge Ohio State and Michigan for Ohio's top athletes, he answered with a short but emphatic "most definitely!"

Finally, how does Gibson think the Big Ten will shape up this year?

"I talked to Brandon [Smith] the other day and he said they [Ohio State] are looking really good, so I'd have to say it's between Ohio State and Iowa."

Notes:

Gibson enjoys playing Madden football with his teammates in his spare time; and has created himself as a member of the Atlanta Falcons. He believes he will be fully qualified by the time school roles around, and plans on majoring in business. Outside of his dream of one day playing in the National Football League, he says he might like to own his own business some day.


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