The reasoning behind the timing was simple, according to Torrance Gibson. Enough, as they say, was enough. It was time to put the focus back where it belongs: on his team. That is why today Torrance Gibson, one of the country's premiere athletes, has committed to Ohio State.
"It was just time, you know? I have to focus on my team," Gibson told Eleven Warriors the night before his announcement. "We're trying to win another state championship. All this attention was being paid to me. I'm a team player, there's more to who we are than Torrance Gibson. All that attention being drawn on me, that's not who I am."
The Gibson File
- Class 2015
- Position ATH (QB)
- Size 6-4/200
- School American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
- Composite ★★★★
- Rank 3 (ATH)
Who Torrance Gibson is has long been up for debate. Is he a prima donna who sought out the spotlight? No, not necessarily. Is he a grinder, willing to outwork anyone to become one of the greats at whatever position he ends up playing throughout the remainder of his career? Sometimes. What he definitely is is a kid. A kid who has been the focus of intense scrutiny — thanks in part to his immense and considerable athletic skill — for years already, and will be for years to come.
"I had just played in my 8th grade all-star game," Gibson told 11W in January. "That's when everyone started talking about me. The excitement about the game kept me going cause I love to play football and watching it everyday really got me going, cause when I was watching TV one day, watching an NFL game I told myself 'I'm going to be there someday,' and ever since then I have been working hard to keep getting better."
The scholarship offers came fast and furious for Gibson. His first, from his hometown Miami Hurricanes, was in February of 2013. Since then, he's added offers from a who's who of elite college football programs, including Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Florida State, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame and most others.
It was over a year ago that the rumors of Gibson's affection for Ohio State really kicked into high gear. Despite that train of thought's near runaway momentum, Gibson had never visited Columbus. Instead, he spent much of the winter and spring visiting different schools, courting and being courted by fans and coaches and anyone else. The business of being Torrance Gibson had grown to almost unstable place. There was Tennessee and Auburn and Oklahoma and LSU and — well — anyone but Ohio State. Torrance Gibson was a star and the fans who adored him kept his name in the lights and he certainly didn't avoid it.
"The fans on Twitter get me hype, honestly, and believe it or not, it makes me want to visit their school," Gibson said in January. "I appreciate all the love that they have been showing me recently. The strangest thing was a kid asked me to send him my jersey and autograph it to him, but it was an honor to have someone ask that since I am only in high school."
"I know it's going to get worse, and it's a blessing of course, and I just want to thank the man upstairs for giving me the opportunity to play this game," he continued. "I really don't know how I'm going to handle [all the celebrity] you know? Because people come and people go and a lot of people have been using me all my life."
Rumors began swirling around Gibson. His social media persona had grown to a point that his favorite schools were no longer in contact, including Ohio State. There was talk, especially after the Buckeyes received a commitment from Joe Burrow, that Gibson was now unlikely to choose Ohio State. He had gone so far as to list the Buckeyes seventh on his seemingly-ever-changing-and-always-proclaiming "list." In June he told Cleveland.com that the Buckeyes were rarely in contact.
In early July, Gibson traveled to Beaverton, Oregon and worked at the Elite 11 and The Opening, hoping to showcase his arm talent at quarterback, to convince the world he was not simply an "athlete." Torrance Gibson plays quarterback, but he also had to prove he could be a quarterback. It's a position that requires leadership on the field and off, and a position that requires putting your own stats and glory behind that of your teammates. Yes, you get the accolades, but you're scrutinized and picked over with a fine-tooth comb as everyone discusses your every tiny flaw. Torrance Gibson's flaws as a quarterback haven't always been tiny, but the raw materials are there, according to Trent Dilfer, a former Super Bowl winning quarterback whose flaws weren't always tiny either.
"He's obviously probably the finest athlete in the country," Dilfer told USA Today in July. "What I'm scared about is that he'll never develop. He's really worked hard at this. He has so much room for growth, and he'll do the work."
Dilfer was told from the start he was "not good enough." Maybe it's the way the chip on his shoulder motivated him. Maybe it's that desire for great that he identifies in Gibson.
"I'm really proud of that kid," Dilfer added. "I think he deserves a chance to develop as a quarterback. Because he's such a great kid. He's so pliable."
Ohio State got their first real up-close look at that pliability in late July when Gibson, thanks to renewed communication with the Buckeyes, made his first visit to Columbus for Friday Night Lights. Gibson, who could very easily have made the visit without needing to work out in front of Urban Meyer and Tom Herman, chose to anyway. He wanted the time with the staff to work on his craft, and it showed the Buckeyes a different side of his personality. Immediately upon his return, Gibson anointed the Buckeyes as his favorite and no one has come close since. Interestingly, the social media circus, the theatrics around his every move seemed to reach a grinding halt following that late July visit to the Heart of it All.
Gibson found a place he felt at home.
"My mind was always thinking about somewhere else," Gibson said. "But my heart was always telling me to choose Ohio State. Whenever I talked to the coaches, the players, whoever; it always felt like family."
Gibson becomes Ohio State's 19th commitment for 2015. The Patriots are 7-3 against one of the country's toughest schedules. Gibson has led the way with close to 1400 yards passing, 700 yards rushing and 25 total touchdowns.