Tony Gibson spent seven seasons as the defensive backs coach at West Virginia, and the last three years coaching the defensive backs at Michigan, where he also added the title of assistant head coach and special teams coach. Going back to his days at West Virginia, Gibson has been an ace recruiter in western Pennsylvania, and will look to do the same for Pitt now.
Gibson follows along the lines of how Todd Graham came up through the ranks as a defensive-minded coach. His teams at Rice and Tulsa developed an offensive reputation. Because of coaching against spread-type offenses, Graham developed an offensive system based on things he had to overcome as a defensive coach. Gibson, having recruited against Pitt in the past, knows every niche that goes in to that. He can transform that all into recruiting for the Panthers now.
"Just being in a great sport city and a great university with tradition, all the things that Pitt has to offer, it's an unbelievable place," Gibson said, moments after being introduced as a part of Todd Graham's staff. "They've produced great tradition and great players in the past. We're just looking forward to working in a great place."
Gibson recruited players out of West Virginia like linebacker Anthony Leonard and offensive lineman Don Barclay. When he went to Michigan, he had even more success, luring in the likes of Cullen Christian, Ken Wilkins, Josh Furman, Jordan Paskorz, Quinton Washington and Anthony LaLota.
"Tony Gibson comes across as a quiet guy, but he was one of the top guys on the (Michigan) staff," GoBlueWolverine Publisher Tom Beaver said. "He is an ace recruiter."
Even though Gibson has been gone from West Virginia for four years, the Mountaineers are still impacted by some of the players he brought on board, including Leonard and Barclay who were starters this past season. When assistants change jobs, they sometimes get assigned new areas. Gibson has been lucky enough to stay in the same recruiting area through the different schools he's coached at.
"It's not like he's going to have to develop contact, he's in touch with most of the coaches," Kevin Kinder, Publisher of West Virginia's Blue and Gold News said. "That's not always the case with most new (assistant) coaches. He's talked to a lot of people. I would think he'd do okay."
Gibson admitted it's nice for him to have the same recruiting area that he has now had for the last decade. The beneficiaries have been the programs he has worked for. However, he has found one drawback.
"I probably won't be a Gold Medallion member on Delta Airlines anymore," Gibson joked. "I guess I'll be wearing out tires on cars."
It didn't take long for Gibson to start wearing out his first set of tires. Wednesday night, he had an offer out to former Penn Hills standout, now of Poland (OH) Seminary, Darius Patton. He also got in touch with Desimon Green, and was able to get McKeesport standouts Delvon Simmons and Branden Jackson on campus for an unofficial visit on Monday.
"What we have to do is just get on kids who want to be at Pitt," Gibson said. "The guys that don't want to be here that are from here, shame on them. We're going to recruit our butts off here in these next couple of weeks, and see what we put together. We don't want anything short of a great class here at Pitt."