There are not many recruits right now with the cachet of Torrance Gibson.
Every tweet, every Facebook post, every minute of every day he's hugged, or hounded, or harassed or heckled. Torrance Gibson is a new-world celebrity, a star athlete in a world who loves one thing more than turning athletes into idols – and that's tearing them down. It's not a situation that grown men and women handle well, so the chip that's developed on Gibson's shoulder shouldn't be a surprise.
"All my life, I've had the mentality that I will not be stopped from reaching my goals," Gibson told Eleven Warriors. "I know people like to talk about me, and I like it most of the time. It keeps me focused and working hard to prove people wrong. I know people don't want me to play quarterback, or say I cant, or that I'd be a better wide receiver, but I know what I can do on the field. I've played quarterback a long time, and I will continue to play quarterback. I will show the world once again that doubting me only makes me work harder."
That chip on his shoulder? He's not alone in embracing it. His entire American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) team has adopted that mentality as they prepare for the 2014 season. There's always something to prove and there's always someone doubting you.
"Right now, I just have to get ready to go out and play football, and that's it," Gibson said when asked how the end of the summer is something he's looking forward to. "We won the state championship last year, but that was last year, it's in the past now. We're going to play with a chip on our shoulder, because we have to. Everyone we play is going to circle our name on their schedule so we have to be focused on our team, our game and our season and not worry what other people think."
What people "think" is exactly what Gibson already alluded to. That his out-of-this-world athleticism and inconsistency throwing the football means an eventual position switch is inevitable. It's hard not to see his frame, his sub 4.4-speed and his explosiveness without imagining the threat he'd be lined up all over the football field. The people who have worked closely with Gibson over the last few months, including the man responsible for the Elite 11 Quarterback Camps, Trent Dilfer, seem to disagree.
"What I'm scared about is that he'll never develop," Dilfer told Paul Myersberg of the USA Today in July. "He's really worked hard at this. He has so much room for growth, and he'll do the work. I think he deserves a chance to develop as a quarterback. Because he's such a great kid. He's so pliable."
That experience in Oregon was one Gibson says changed his outlook and his approach.
"They actually invited me to The Opening as an 'athlete,' but they allowed me to participate in the Elite 11 so I could get the experience and reps working as a quarterback and I really appreciated that chance," he said of Nike's premiere camp. "I learned so much there, and really it's just knowing that quarterback isn't a regular position on the football field. I have to take control of the football team, I have to know that people are always going to be watching me. If it's 4th-and-20 with a minute left in a game, they'll be watching me. That camp definitely prepared me for the challenges ahead and for college."
The Buckeyes are one of a handful of college teams still in the hunt for the country's 26th-ranked player, and he will be make his second visit to Columbus in six weeks, his official visit, on the weekend of September 6th. The Buckeyes host Virginia Tech in what will be their first true home game of the season, and it's a trip Gibson is looking forward to making. After a tumultuous few months in spring and early summer, Gibson and the Buckeyes seemed to drift apart, but that's no longer the case. His famed Twitter "lists" had the Buckeyes at third, fifth and seventh, seemingly out of contention until his late July visit. After that, with Ohio State pronounced as his then (and current) leader, things have changed noticeably between himself and the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer himself.
"We talk every day now," Gibson said of Ohio State's head coach. "I guess you can say we lost communication there for a while, but that's all behind us. He told me that he really didn't know how to use Twitter that much (laughs)."
The chance to further establish a relationship with what could be his future coach aside, Gibson wants to experience a gameday atmosphere at Ohio State. He says that's equally important in the stadium and on campus.
"I'm really excited to just get back on campus again," he mentioned. "I'd like to try and get a better feel for the whole place, academically and football-wise. The game experience should be great and I want to really soak up that atmosphere."
Although he's not committed to Ohio State, he's aware that a few other big Buckeye targets will be on hand and he's looking forward to the chance to spend time with potential teammates.
"I think that night should be great," when asked about the players he's looking forward to meeting. "I've heard Josh Sweat, Lawrence Cager and Christian Kirk might all be there. I've been talking to people about it."
Recruiting is far from over for Torrance Gibson, but he's trying to turn his energy towards his team, improving his game and his senior year of high school.
"I've been working a lot on staying in the pocket," Gibson said of his preparations for his senior campaign. "I want our team to win the state title again. My only goal is to get better, to help my team win games and to help get my teammates get offers, to get more attention, because they deserve it too. They all work too hard for all the attention to just be on me."
Torrance Gibson is growing up, it seems. The five-star talent is learning each and every day that expectations can burden you and that talent can become an anchor if you let it. Fortunately, he's also learning that the chances to develop his game and his character are all around him, and he's taking each and every one of them.