Published Thursday, February 07, 2013
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Drew Gibson suddenly has a lot of time on his hand again. After making a commitment to play at Air Force following his recent graduation from Trinity Christian, he's now anxiously awaiting his first day as a cadet this summer.
Patience, however, is something the 18-year-old has mastered as much as playing football last year for the Lions.
"I'm ready," said Gibson, who along with Trinity Christian lineman Brandon Haney (Point University) signed scholarships on National Signing Day Wednesday at the school. "I can't wait to get out there."
The 6-foot-1, 237-pound Gibson, who signed a non-binding Certificate of Intent with Air Force – which, as a service academy, is a non-scholarship institution — knows a thing or two about waiting games.
Despite sitting out a full year of high school football recovering from a rare second bout of Guillain Barre' syndrome, his return brought impressive results in all three phases of the game while helping the Lions reach last year's GISA Class AAA state playoffs.
"It feels great to know that I have the opportunity to go to what I think is a good academic institution," said Gibson, shortly after posing for a National Signing Day photo with his parents, younger siblings and Trinity Christian head football coach Chris Hanson. "It was definitely worth the wait."
(To view photos from Wednesday's signings, please visit: http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports for the Photo Gallery.)
Gibson's academic transcript will allow him to immediately join the Falcons program this fall, where he earned the interest of offensive coordinator Clay Hendrix as a potential college fullback.
Playing both linebacker and defensive end for most of his varsity career, Gibson finished with 82 tackles and 12 sacks during his senior year at Trinity Christian, adding two fumble recoveries and forcing two safeties.
But he equally became a bulldozing runner and lead blocker while playing offense, posting four touchdowns in a victory against Dominion Christian.
"I hadn't really played offense a lot before this season. I had always been on the defensive side," Gibson said. "But I've really enjoyed playing fullback this year and getting a chance to run the ball every now and then."
Prior to arriving at Trinity Christian — which allowed him an extra semester of eligibility through the GISA after missing the spring of 2011 at Northgate High — he was faced with a long rehabilitation process after losing 40 pounds and muscle mass following a second bout with Guillain Barre, a neurological disorder that left him unable to walk.
Only one in 100,000 contracts the syndrome and among those, just 3 to 5 percent experience it a second time.
He spent months enduring both occupational and physical rehabilitation before resuming workouts with hopes of returning to the field. Gibson also worked with Ryan Duncan of SPEED Sports Performance during his recovery.
Gibson also follows a growing list of athletes from Coweta to play at Air Force, most recently including Northgate linebacker Andre Morris and cornerback Carson Bird.
"It was a long process," said Gibson. "I'm just happy everything worked out for the best."
Hanson, meanwhile, expects several more Trinity Christian players to ink scholarships in upcoming weeks. Haney became the second Lion in consecutive years to sign with Point's young program while being reunited with former teammate Adam Downs.