ATLANTA — Two years ago, an injury took DeAngelo Gibbs off the football field for a season. Today, he thinks he’s better because of it.
The 4-star defensive back wouldn’t say he was lazy before his knee injury but admits he might have taken his athletic ability for granted.
“Before my knee injury, I was at a point that I was satisfied at being,” Gibbs said. “I always wanted to get better, of course. But I was at a point where I was dunking a basketball easily, doing all kinds of tricks. Out there running my routes perfect, doing jump balls.”
Then came Peachtree Ridge’s (Ga.) 2014 season opener against Archer. Gibbs was playing receiver and corner. He had 135 yards and a touchdown by halftime. In the third quarter, Archer linebacker Quinton Miller hit Gibbs, and the sophomore went down.
Gibbs suffered damage to his MCL and meniscus, as well as a bone bruise. He would miss the rest of the season because of it. The recovery wasn’t easy, but it inspired him to work even harder.
“When I messed up my knee, it kind of set me back a little bit,” Gibbs said. “(After I was cleared), I was barely touching the rim. I was barely dunking the ball. I was barely jumping high. My routes weren’t crisp. So that just humbled me to get better and get past how good I was.”
College football programs seem to have no worries about his recovery. He has 33 scholarship offers, according to 247Sports, with Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama all vying for his commitment.
Gibbs told SEC Country’s Chris Kirschner that Georgia is recruiting him the hardest. The Vols appear to be his other top choice, with the Crimson Tide trying to catch up.
The 6-foot-2, 204-pound cornerback transferred across the county to play at Grayson (Ga.) this season with some other highly rated recruits. They include CB Jamyest Williams, OT Tony Gray and LB Breon Dixon, another Peachtree Ridge transfer.
Though he returned in 2015, Gibbs thinks this will be a breakout season.
“I think this season will be the year that I show you guys how I’m past my knee injury,” Gibbs said, “and how valuable I can be as a player.”
More from SEC Country’s Q&A with the nation’s No. 39 overall prospect:
Q: When did you start playing football?
A: Ever since I could walk. Like 3, 4? They put me on the field when I was very young. At a young age, (I was) playing organized football. My mom wanted me to play flag. My dad wanted me to play in pads. I went the flag route initially. I played two games of flag, and after those two games out there tackling everybody, they were like, “Put him in pads. Let him go. Let him go.”
Do you have any game-day traditions or superstitions, like something you have to wear for every game?
I really don’t. I don’t have pretty much any superstitions. I probably listen to a certain couple songs that’ll keep me hyped. But other than that, I really don’t have any rituals or any superstitions. Honestly, I don’t really ever wear the same things. I probably wear a different cleat every game.
With you guys having a lot of new faces at Grayson this year, how well has the team bonded?
I think we bonded close real quick. I think we came in and we had the same mindset. Everybody came in with the same mindset. Nobody came in with a big head. Nobody came in thinking they were better than anybody. So I think we came in prepared and ready to go, and that’s what brought our bond very, very close. And that’s why I think it’s going to be hard for teams to beat us, because of not just how well we’re coached but how bonded our team is.
What have you been working on and trying to get better at this season?
There’s always room for everything. I’ve tried to get better as a team leader. And just my personal skills on and off the field. Just making the team become one unit and just propelling our team to a higher level. And that’ll help me play great.
Do you have a hobby or an interest that maybe people don’t know about?
I love to shop. I could be in the mall all day, every day, and can’t nobody take me out. I love to shop.