National Rank at S: 43
Overall State Rank: NR
Star Rating: ***
An Inside Texas conversation with Leander head coach Steve Gideon on his star player, and son, Blake Gideon.
Inside Texas: We've seen the stats and the highlights, but who is Blake Gideon?
Steve Gideon: Blake's a kid you can take pride in. He's the ultimate team player. Everything he says, everything he does is always about the team and within the scope of the team. He's not the kind of player that likes to have the microphone in his face, but when he does, he talks about his teammates. He's dedicated, extremely dedicated. I'll give you a little inside info. He had troubles with some injuries earlier in his high school career, but he'd be here working out three, four times a day so he could get back. He's a blessing to me and his mom. His work ethic is gratifying as a parent. Couldn't ask for a better son.
IT: How did that dynamic work, with you being the head coach and your son being the star player?
Gideon: Blake eased that father-son dynamic because of how hard he worked. I said, 'You didn't ask to be my son and I'm going to treat you the same' and he understood. He never leaned on it. His teammates saw that and it was not an issue. He got where he was because he earned his way and not because his father was his coach. Blake handled it great and became a leader for the team.
IT: In what way was he a leader? Was he a guy who would get up in front of the team all the time and talk or did he more lead by example?
Gideon: He'd prefer to be the guy who leads by example, but he also became someone who was able to listen to his teammates and someone they trusted. Leading by example opened up doors. He speaks up, but they listen because he's lead by example. It allowed what he said to carry a great deal of weight and he was the guy that players would go to. I'm looking here at a picture of him and the other seniors on the team and he was close friends with almost every one of them and he had both leadership and friendship and was able to help any of them through tough times.
IT: Leadership is also something the quarterback position lends itself to, which he did play at times for y'all, correct?
Gideon: Off and on. He played a lot as he was growing up and in the early parts of high school, but when he got to the varsity level, the question became do we leave him and groom him to be a quarterback or do we player him right now? Our DB coach was trying to convince me to let him have Blake because Blake was ready to play right then. We decided since he could contribute immediately and succeed we'd put him at safety and he became the starting free safety. He made his impact on the defensive side of the ball, but because of his abilities we always kept him connected to the offensive side. As a sophomore he played running back, as a junior he played wide receiver and some quarterback and as a senior he was a quarterback and occasionally we'd split him out at wide receiver and throw to him. We used him in various ways anytime we needed a big play.
IT: When did it become apparent that safety is where his talents are going to be be applied at the collegiate level?
Gideon: Well, starting out, he ran so well as a sophomore when we first put the ball in his hands that he was a running back. Any time he touched it he could go the distance. I remember there was a game in Bryan where he scored from 90, 85 and 80 yards. He was a big-time player on offense from the beginning, but we always had interest in using him on both sides of the ball. The interest really turned to defense when we put him at safety and he was affecting the game all over the field. He came up and made an impact at the line of scrimmage on run defense and as for pass, usually it's really easy to trick a sophomore with play action or the like and just throw it over the top, but Blake wasn't fooled. He just had the mentality to play the position. He was aggressive and aware of the team needs and it became clear that's where he needed to be used.
IT: Was Texas clear with you on his position? Did the coaches say that safety is definitely where they want him?
Gideon: Yes. Coach (Duane) Akina, Coach (Mack) Brown both were pretty clear, as was Coach (Greg) Davis, who recruited Blake even though he coaches the offense. But I told Coach Brown going into Blake's senior year, "Listen, we're going to need him at other positions as well." Coach Brown said, "I don't care if he doesn't play a down at safety. You just do what you need to do to win football games," which I appreciated. They clearly believe Blake has what it takes to play safety in the Big 12 and he's at Texas right now getting ready for it. He's grasping the concepts they're giving him. Now, he will call me and we'll talk about it, but I try not to bother him. He's in his element and he's doing great out there. I told Texas, "He's y'all's now," and they're doing a great job with him.
IT: And he's got a great opportunity. In spring practice, he's one of the few able-bodied safeties on the roster.
Gideon: He understands this is his shot, but he's going to have to earn it. Texas has got enough great athletes that'll he'll have plenty of competition and Texas also does a good job of recruiting corners that can also play safety. There will be plenty of competition at the position, so he just has to be there every day and do all the little things necessary to be successful and he will.
IT: What's it going to be like to go from being his coach to just being a fan of his in the stands?
Gideon: I'm going to love every minute of it. I'm going to go out there and scream and holler and have a good time as his biggest fan. His mom's been his biggest fan all the way through and now I get to join her. I'm looking forward to going out there on Saturdays and watching Blake play.
IT: What are the greatest strengths that Blake brings to a football team?
Gideon: What Texas fans are going to find out over the next few years is how consistent of a player he is. Once he gets through the green stages, when they call out his name and people talk about him, they'll talk about how consistent he is and once he settles into he role on the team he's going to take off. He's academically strong and his education means a lot to him and he's the ultimate team player and really takes the coaching to heart.
IT: Since consistency is his strength, I would imagine he was a very steady, level tackler for y'all and didn't get too wild or lose focus with his hits.
Gideon: He was a very steady performer as a tackler for us. Now what he needs to do is adjust to the speed of the game. He was one of the best, now he's one of many great players, but once he really gets his feet under him in college, he's going to be a very steady tackler for Texas. He'll work on that every day in practice because he's got a great passion for the game.
IT: What will he do to make sure that transition takes place?
Gideon: Blake's good at watching tape and breaking down his own game so he can get even stronger as a player. He'll stay the same and keep doing what he does and whatever Coach Akina or Coach (Will) Muschamp say to him he will take to heart. You could see that transition with him each time he got to a new level of football. Take 5A football in Texas, which is, in my opinion anyway, our best league and he was able to play well and quickly make that transition. You'll see that every day with him.
IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Blake and his transition to the college game?
Gideon: I just want to say that he's having the time of his life at Texas right now. The older players have taken him under their wings and he's learning and transitioning to the next level. He's living his life-long dream, but he's not staying satisfied. He wants to get better every day. If you're happy with being where you are, you're probably going to stay there. He wants to get better and he'll work every day to make sure he does.