Marcell Gipson has more than just football to think about right now.
But the sophomore cornerback said he's never been more comfortable on the gridiron.
"This was the best I've felt in my whole life out here, honestly," Gipson said after the first session of spring drills on Wednesday. "I knew the plays. I was getting things down. I had a couple breakups, but I know I can always improve. It's going to happen over time."
The graduation of 2007 seniors Julius Stinson, Michael Medina and Troy Lewis opened the door for Gipson to take on a bigger role in the secondary this season, and the 5-foot-10, 172-pound defensive back has worked his way to the top of the Cowboys' depth chart at the field cornerback spot—at least for now.
"I'm actually with the first team, me and (sophomore corner) T.J. (Atwater), but anything can happen," Gipson said on Wednesday. "It's spring ball.
"Julius, Michael and Troy, those guys were pretty good…(but) I think we can step up and do things exactly the way they were done, if not better."
But while he's trying to continue improving things on the field, Gipson knows he'll have to put just as much work in after he gets out of practice—starting in the classroom.
"I was actually behind a little bit, but I'm working with a couple teachers now," he said. "They're working with me one-on-one, and that's been a blessing. I actually turned things around, just overnight it seemed like.
"Now, my head's feeling good. My grades are good, and it seems like I'm playing good. So I'm just feeling pretty good about everything that's going on."
It hasn't been easy, however, and Wyoming coach Joe Glenn knows how hard it could get for the Dallas native to balance football with everything else happening in his life.
"He's in some classes now at the 200 level that are advanced a little bit, and his wife's working a job and they have a little baby," Glenn said. "He's got a lot of (responsibilities). We need him in the weight room, and we need him at practice, and we need him in meetings, so I know those two (Gipson and his wife) have got a lot of plates spinning. If he makes it, it will say a lot about the guy, but he's working hard at it. And he's a very lovable guy.
"I just pray that he makes it."
Gipson will get some added family support in the fall from his younger brother Tashaun, a senior at Justin F. Kimball High School in Dallas who signed a letter of intent to play football at Wyoming next season. But Tashaun could also give Marcell a bit of extra competition at the cornerback position.
"He's a pretty big kid, a lot bigger than me and pretty aggressive," Marcell said. "I thought he looked pretty good to me, but, you know, the coaches got to decide that.
"If I had to say, I can't say nobody's better than me. I always say me, but I think he's right up there with me. And I think he's got potential to be better than me, most definitely."
No matter which brother logs more playing time this fall, the Gipsons plan on continuing one family football tradition together at Wyoming. The two always wear sleeves underneath their jerseys, regardless of the weather. It's not something that will turn many heads on game days in Laramie, but in the Pokes' indoor practice facility on Wednesday, safely guarded from the Wyoming wind, Marcell's apparel made him stand out from the rest of the defense.
"I'm not cold," he said. "I just do this. It's a little thing that me and my family, you know, me and my brother do….We always wear our sleeves like this. It could be 100 degrees, and we're still wearing sleeves. It's a little trend of the family."
And if the duo's summer workouts pay off, Wyoming's cornerback position could be featuring two sets of sleeves on a regular basis next season.
"When I go back home this summer, we're going to work out hard," Gipson said. "We're going to do everything one-on-one and then just come back out here and work with a couple of receivers, C.J. (Chris Johnson) and Donate (Morgan)…and I think (Tashaun) ought to be ready when he comes here.
"(The coaches) just play the best. Whoever's the best, that's who's going to play. I feel like (Tashaun's) going to have an equal shot."
In the meantime, Marcell will be trying to hang onto his spot with the first team during spring drills—while helping out his wife and taking care of a baby and working hard in the classroom.
"I'm just taking it a day at a time right now," he said.
Glenn said he thought the cornerbacks as a whole moved around well during Wednesday's practice, and he praised Gipson for making a couple good plays during passing drills.
"I'm excited about our defense," Glenn said. "It looks like we've got some guys."
Busy CB Taking things One Day at a Time
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