Gibson is the reigning Big Ten defensive player of the week following a performance Oct. 24 against Minnesota in which he recorded six tackles, three sacks and recovered a fumble. Through the first eight games of the season, Gibson has recorded 25 tackles – 9.5 for a loss – with four sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The tackles and sacks totals are both one less than he notched all of last season, and his tackles for a loss are already a career best.
Yet it all almost didn't happen. Gibson was frustrated with his lack of playing time early in his Ohio State career and almost transferred out of the Buckeye program in 2007. After taking a redshirt in 2006, Gibson played primarily on special teams and appeared in only eight games in '07, recording 11 stops with three for a loss and a sack. The his on-field exhorts were overshadowed by his unhappiness with his minor role. He even sought the advice of his high school coach and had him check into other schools for a possible transfer.
"Just coming here and not having the opportunity was just hard for me," said Gibson, who was a two-time All-Ohio selection and the Cleveland Touchdown Club's 2005 Defensive Player of the Year as a high school senior with the Panthers. "I look back at it and I'm thankful that happened to me because I think it made me a better person today and a better player."
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, upperclassmen like Curtis Terry, Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. convince him to stay as he struggled in his first two years in Columbus. Current teammate Doug Worthington also advised Gibson.
"Sometimes you want it too fast," Worthington said. "You want to be there and come in and be the man. I had to let him know he had a couple of guys in front of him that were pretty good in Vern Gholston and the other defensive linemen."
When Gholston left for the NFL following his junior year, Gibson found a starting spot on the OSU defensive line in 2008. He had a breakout season and played in all 13 games, finishing the season with 26 tackles, nine tackles for a loss and five sacks.
All the advice Gibson received led him down the correct path.
"With hard work and dedication it (all) paid off," Gibson said. "And I'm thankful for those guys being in my ear and telling me the things to do and what not to do. I just locked in and kept my eyes on the prize and kept pushing from the classroom to the football field."
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said Gibson learned a valuable lesson as a young player.
"Patience," Tressel said Tuesday at his weekly media luncheon. "That's a great thing for anyone to learn in whatever they're involved in. And I think these young kids, whether they're at Ohio State, New Mexico State, Minnesota – wherever they are – they've been recruited. They've been given the impression that their services are sorely needed and the world's going to be wonderful if they'll just come here.
"Well, the world isn't wonderful anywhere to everyone's liking and it's maybe a lot more difficult and you get surprised a little bit and disappointed and impatient."
Tressel wasn't worried Gibson would leave, either.
"He didn't have a car, I don't think," Tressel joked. "It's a long walk to Euclid."
Not only is Gibson happy he overcame the tough times but he is even using the lessons he's learned when counseling some of the younger members of the deep defensive line unit.
"It's crazy how the tables have turned," Gibson said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to give advice to those guys and let them know the things they have to do. It's a great team here. There's a lot of great players and everybody can't be on the field at once. You really do have to sit back and learn from the guys in front of you and get better and be ready when your time comes."