|Unimposing Ryan Gibson making a name for himself on the field�|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Sept. 13, 2006 - To look at Ryan Gibson on the sidelines might be to overlook him. At only 5-9, 165 pounds, he isn't physically imposing and it takes a lot for him to raise his voice.
But, to watch him on the field is to see him make plays.
Gibson, a two-year starter at cornerback for the Wildcats, made his presence felt Friday night by knocking down a long pass down the middle of the field and then stopping a dangerous Whitehouse drive with the first interception of his varsity career shortly before halftime.
The interception came at the 2-yard line as Whitehouse was driving to try to close the 35-13 score. His 31-yard return ended the first half.
Gibson's position coach, Triston Abron, said he has come to expect those types of plays from the team's best coverage corner.
"Ryan makes plays, and at key times Friday night, he made great plays," Abron said. "That's what we want from him. If he can lead in that way, we'll take that. You don't have to be vocal all the time."
Last year, being vocal was all Gibson could do for almost half of the season as he missed five games with a separated shoulder. In the offseason, he added 10 pounds to his upper body.
It has not only solidified him physically, it has helped him become a better tackler. In two games this season, he has eight tackles - already half way to his season total of 16 last year.
The best part of Gibson's game is covering a receiver man-to-man, but he has improved his tackling as well.
"I'm not really a big guy, so I think coverage is easier," Gibson said. "But, I've really been working hard to tackle better. Most people think DBs can't tackle, so I've been working really hard to do that better."
According to Abron, Gibson is working into a more well-rounded defensive player.�
"I think Ryan's a very good man (man-to-man) corner. He planned man great on Friday. To be a good man corner, you're going to be a good zone corner as well," Abron explained. "He's matured a lot since last year. I think it hurt us a lot when he went down last year. With him being back and playing the way he is, I think that's going to make us a lot better.
"He has put on weight since last year, and that has helped us out a lot because we're pressing a lot this year. It helps with those guys putting their hands on the receivers and making those receivers work to get off the line. With him being stronger and bigger, it's going to give receivers some fits, and it already has."
That will also make him more attractive to college scouts. Gibson wants to get a scholarship to play football and then maybe become an engineer or an architect.
He understands the way things fit together, especially on the football team. As a two-year starter, he can help tutor the sophomores, especially Darrell Franklin, the other starting cornerback who is also small but fast.
"I just try to do my part," Gibson said. "Sometimes it's getting everybody pumped up and sometimes it's trying to show some of these sophomores what it's like on Friday nights."