Gibson Ready For The Spotlight

Things were not going the way Thaddeus Gibson wanted them to, and as a result he made a mistake and found himself suspended from the team for a big game. Now a happy contributor to the team who said he will play any position the coaches want him to, Gibson has turned things around from the beginning of the season. has the story.

NEW ORLEANS – Few players enjoy enduring a redshirt season, and Thaddeus Gibson was not one of them.

A four-star linebacker prospect out of Euclid, Ohio, Gibson was one of the final players to round out Ohio State's 2006 recruiting class. But despite being ranked as the No. 9 linebacker prospect in the country by, the player described as a "205-pound missile" found himself toiling on the scout team as a true freshman.

One year later, Gibson found himself in the mix for playing time as a redshirt freshman. Playing the same spot as former OSU standout Bobby Carpenter, Gibson was lining up as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker who was inserted into games in special situations to apply extra pressure on the quarterback.

Although he did not start, Gibson was quietly establishing himself as a niche player on the nation's top-ranked defense. Through the first five games, he had recorded seven tackles while also playing on special teams.

But it was not the kind of production or playing time he was expecting, and one practice before the Buckeyes hit the road to face Purdue the frustrations boiled over. An athlete who plays with a lot of emotion, those feelings finally got the best of him.

"I was being selfish," he said. "Things weren't really going my way during practice and I was seeing that I wasn't going to play much. I got a little carried away with not playing and got into a little conflict with (linebackers) coach (Luke) Fickell.

"I regret it every day of my life."

The end result of the conflict was that Gibson was not permitted to travel with the team to West Lafayette, Ind., for the night game against then-No. 23 Purdue. He would return to action the following week against Kent State and record three tackles, but it took some coaching from a few teammates to help get him back on track.

Junior linebacker Curtis Terry and senior linebacker Larry Grant were two of those teammates.

"I just basically sat him down and told him that you can't do that," Terry said. "This is a team. It's bigger than just you, and at the end of the day you've got to come back and look us all in the face."

While the Buckeyes were beating the Boilermakers, Gibson was at his home in Columbus watching the game with his mother and a few of his aunts.

It did not take long for the lesson to set in. Not being able to travel and be with the team was the most difficult part of the situation, he said.

"Everybody says that you learn a lot in college and that situation changed my life," he said. "Just not being there with my team that I work with and see every day, it was rough."

Gibson and Fickell quickly reconciled, Gibson said, and he sat down with both head coach Jim Tressel and defensive coordinator Jim Heacock to help put the incident behind him. In addition, Terry said both he and Grant talked to him and urged him to look at the big picture.

"He's like our baby," Terry said. "He's coming along fine. I think he's going to become one hell of a player. He's still a little rough around the edges, but he's an extremely talented athlete. I think big things are ahead for him."

With Grant's impending graduation, Gibson figures to be the primary benefactor. The two play different positions, but their time on the field is directly related. When Grant comes out of the game and the Buckeyes use three down linemen, Gibson can essentially take his spot on the field.

Once Grant is gone, Gibson is next in line for some of those snaps.

"This is Larry Grant's last game of his college career and he said it all goes so fast, just be patient and things will come your way," Gibson said.

After the Kent State game, Gibson did not play in three of the team's final five games of the season. However, junior linebacker Marcus Freeman said he expects to see Gibson on the field against LSU in Monday night's BCS National Championship Game.

When his time comes, Grant said fans can expect big things out of the 6-3, 220-pound Gibson.

"He's going to be a huge pickup for the Ohio State defense next year," Grant said.

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