WR Jayden Gibson (6-6 185) of Winter Garden, FL is another major talent the USC staff has impressed enough to earn a spot on his short list. Gibson included the Gamecocks this week when he dropped a top eight that also includes Georgia, Miami, Florida, Baylor, Florida State, Tennessee and Auburn. Gibson made a two-day unofficial visit to USC in June with his father. That visit, and his strong relationship with receivers coach Justin Stepp, convinced him to keep USC in the hunt.
“The people who are there, I like all the people a lot, like all the way down to the support staff,” Gibson said. “When I was there, they were all nice to me and kind. I actually made relationships with a lot of the people that are already there. In the two days there, I got pretty close to some of the people that were there. Definitely feeling for them as far as the relationship part which has always been a big thing for me. And then, it’s a program on the rise. There’s an opportunity with the new coaching staff to be able to turn it around, put the energy in the right direction and continue to go forward. I feel like with the new coaching staff they have there and the values that are being instilled, I feel like they are a program that definitely could be on the rise if the right playmakers are attached to it.”
In talking about what made the Gamecocks so attractive to him, Gibson saved his strongest emotions for Stepp.
“Coach Stepp, that’s my guy,” Gibson said. “I met his wife. He’s super cool. We really don’t talk that much football. We talked football when I was up there, and we’ve talked football a couple of times, but once he got the point across to me about how he was going to use me in the offense, once he showed me my spot in the offense, he’s one of the coaches that appeals to the people side of it. He knows I’m a playmaker and he knows in the offense I’ll thrive, but he wants me to know that he will take care of me and make sure I’m becoming the person I need to be. He won’t leave me stranded. He’ll have my back, which definitely appeals to me because football is going to end.
“I know that one day I’ll be in the NFL, and whichever college coach I choose will have to develop me to be where I need to be successful in the NFL,” Gibson continued. “My work ethic and drive alone is going to take me to the NFL alone because I won’t stop. That’s my dream and I won’t stop until I achieve it. I know Coach Stepp is a great developer of receivers. As much as I want to be developed, I also want a coach that will have my back and be there for me. Coach Stepp is definitely one of those coaches. I’m not going to say he’s the only one. There are more coaches that I feel like will have my back, which is why it’s a hard decision. But Coach Stepp is definitely one of the coaches that I feel would have my back, would make sure I’m doing OK, make sure I’m becoming what I can become as far as a man, a son and a husband.”
Obviously, relationships with a staff are very important to Gibson as he ponders his decision. More precisely, the relationship with the receivers coach has to be paramount. In that case, Stepp is in a good place with him.
“He’s definitely in the top percent of the recruiters that I’m close with,” Gibson said. “There are other coaches that I’m close with on the same level in that top percentile. But there are also a lot of coaches who fall under that top percentile that I’m not necessarily as close with as far as a relationship. But those schools have other things to offer that might make things even out with another school. You have to take all that stuff into account.”
In June, along with the unofficial visit to USC, Gibson made official visits to Miami and Baylor, and unofficial visits to Florida, Florida State and Auburn. The only July visit he knows he will make will be to Georgia. The Bulldogs just offered him in the last week, and he’s not yet had the chance to visit. He said Stepp has been talking with his mother about them coming back to USC for the July 31st cookout, but they’ve made no decision on that.
Gibson said he would like to make his decision early in his senior season.