Health is vital in any sport and at any level. It is especially important when it comes to recruiting. An injury can be the difference between a recruit landing an offer or losing one.
Memphis (Tenn.) Mitchell Road High School product Artaves Gibson reached the mountain top during his sophomore campaign after rushing for 1,759 yards and 23 scores and landing MVP honors in the state championship game.
Less than a year later, Gibson found himself back at square one after he suffered an MCL sprain just six games into the season. Considering the circumstances, he still finished his junior season with 511 yards on the ground and four touchdowns on 96 carries in eight games.
The injury has undoubtedly gotten his recruitment off to a slow start due to many college coaches waiting to see how he bounces back. However, according to Gibson, three programs have already offered their confidence in writing with official scholarship offers.
“Memphis, Kentucky, and LSU offered,” Gibson confirmed. “Those are my only three offers right now. I haven’t really thought about where I want to go to school, but now I think it’s time to start. Memphis was my first offer and I received the scholarship letter from LSU on Monday. The LSU offer came as a surprise because I didn’t see it coming. It was a huge offer.”
Gibson, a big 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, could be that big bruising tailback that pounds the ball between the tackles, or he could grow into a fullback which many expect when it comes to playing on the next level.
Former LSU running backs coach Larry Porter started recruiting Gibson when he was at LSU and since then new running backs coach Frank Wilson has been keeping tabs on the talented back. The early recruiting efforts from Porter and Wilson have made a strong impression on Gibson along with the Tigers’ tradition of turning out NFL-caliber backs under Les Miles.
“I haven’t spoken to any of the LSU coaches yet, but my coach has, so a lot of what I know about LSU is off of what coach Larry Porter told me last year,” Gibson continued. “He was recruiting my area last year, but now he is at Memphis. I like LSU, though, because they like to run the ball a lot and I know a lot of good backs come from LSU. They have a lot of tradition too because everybody knows about LSU.”
The type of offense a team runs and a program’s tradition is important factors, but Gibson claimed it is not the main one. Not for him anyway.
“Playing time will be the most important thing for me when it comes time to decide,” Gibson stated. “The depth chart will also be important, but I don’t think location will play a role at all. I don’t feel like I necessarily have to come in and play as a freshman, but I would like to get the chance.”
Early playing time could be an option for Gibson as LSU is far from settled at either running back position. Add in that three of the four backs – Alfred Blue, Jakhari Gore and Brandon Worle – that signed in the 2010 class still have some work to do on the academic front and it’s easy to see that playing early could be an option for any running backs that LSU signs in 2011.
“I don’t mind redshirting, but I think that will depend on my conditioning coming from my senior season,” Gibson said. “I plan on being in good shape, so I think I should be ready to play my freshman year.”
Gibson said that he is anxious to see what LSU has to offer and says he will likely attend a camp session this summer. He hopes, though, that a trip this summer would be his second trip to Baton Rouge since receiving his offer from the Tigers.
“I plan on making it down for their junior day (March 27) and I’m excited about seeing LSU and meeting with the coaches,” he said. “It’s a very exciting time right now.”