Tweaked hammy doesn't dampen Gibson's spirit

COUGAR RECORD-SETTER Brandon Gibson isn't a guy who worries about what might have been. He has his eyes trained on tomorrow, not yesterday. So when the topic is a strained hamstring and the havoc it is wreaking on his preparations for a career in the NFL, Gibson is matter-of-fact, not melancholy.

"It's a little frustrating because I consider myself a competitor and right now I can't compete," Brandon Gibson told Cougfan.com late last week in a phone interview from Westlake, Calif., where he's been training since Christmas.

"I'm keeping positive and focusing on what I can control," he said.

Gibson strained a hamstring in January during practices for the Senior Bowl. The injury knocked him out of the all-star game, which is a showcase for top college players aspiring to the NFL.

A bummer for sure, but not the end of the world, because the invitation-only NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February is where the proverbial rubber really meets the road.

Unfortunately, the hamstring also shelved Gibson for the Combine. He was at the big event, interviewing with various teams, but he didn't participate in the workouts.

The tale of woe doesn't stop there for the Puyallup product.

While the hamstring is now almost healthy, Gibson won't have enough time to get into top from for the March 11 Pro Day in Pullman when a dozen NFL scouts will be on campus putting WSU's outgoing seniors through their paces.

"I might do the bench press at the Pro Day, but I won't be in any shape for running. I'm just starting to run again, there's not enough time to build up lot of speed," he said.

So his agent -- from the same firm that represents Marcus Trufant, the Abdullah brothers and other Cougars – is arranging for a private workout for Gibson sometime in April. "We're going to find a date and get as many teams there as possible," says Gibson.

The draft is April 25 and 26.

"I can only control what I can do – and that's to be consistent when I get my opportunity. So I'm focusing on what I can control."

One thing the hamstring didn't affect is Gibson's smarts. At the Combine, he interviewed with roughly 20 teams and was grilled about coverages and schemes.

"Coach Levy prepared me well for that since my freshman year, and the Pac-10 itself prepares you well. I think I excelled in that part of it."

Gibson said he had a great visit with Jim Mora and his staff with the Seahawks. And at the Senior Bowl he had a chance to renew acquaintances with Raiders assistant Kelly Skipper, Gibson's old special teams coach at WSU. Skipper told him the hamstring is a setback, but Gibson's reputation as a hard worker and fierce competitor will serve him well.

A Bengals coach called him with words of encouragement – "to stay positive and just focus on getting back to 100 percent."

One topic all the teams he talked with brought up was the balls he dropped this past season – the types of balls he didn't drop in 2007.

"I was trying to make the big play and took my head off the ball," Gibson said of his inconsistent 2008, in which he caught 57 passes. "Every time the ball came my way I was trying to make a play because our offense was struggling. I was trying to do too much instead of being myself. I ended up fixing it toward the end of the season."

Gibson says it's too early to forecast what the NFL draft may bring but the middle rounds seem logical at this point.

NOTABLE NOTES:

• Gibson needs 20 credits to graduate from WSU and plans to get it done by next summer.

• Cougar receiver Jeffrey Solomon, a childhood pal of Gibson's, "is going to shock a lot of people this season – he's a big-time player," Gibson said. Solomon, from Seattle's Ingraham High, transferred to WSU from Eastern Washington a year ago and sat out this past season per NCAA rules.


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