Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 91 Days to Go

91: Fred Gibson, Wide Receiver #82 (2001 – 2004)

In the spring of 2001, I was freshman at Georgia living in O-House. My roommate was from Waycross, Georgia, and one afternoon we had a message on our answering machine. It was a friend of my roommate named Fred, who had decided switch his college commitment from Florida to Georgia. At that point I had no idea who Fred was, but anyone who decided to shun the Gators in favor of the Dawgs was a good guy in my book. That player turned out to be Fred Gibson, who had a great four year career at Georgia.

Fred Gibson was a member of Mark Richt’s first recruiting class and had originally committed to play for Steve Spurrier at Florida. He was a two sport star at Ware County High School, where he caught 50 passes for over 1,000 yards as a senior. Gibson saw the field early during his freshman season, but had his breakout game in October of 2001 against the Kentucky Wildcats. Georgia had fallen behind Kentucky early in the game, but a couple of long touchdown catches by Gibson would help the Bulldogs rally to victory. In the game, Gibson caught 9 passes for a Georgia record 201 yards, including touchdown catches of 68 and 56 yards. For the season, he caught 33 passes for 772 yards and six touchdowns. This included a Georgia record 5 games of 100 plus yards receiving.

Gibson got off to a fast start in the 2002 season opener against Clemson, returning a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in the 31 – 28 Georgia victory. Gibson would have another solid season both catching passes and returning kicks. He totaled 43 receptions for 758 yards and 4 touchdowns receiving and added 460 yards returning kickoffs (despite missing a few games due to injury). In 2003, Gibson would be hampered by injuries and would finish with his worst statistical season at Georgia (36 catches for 553 yards (15.4 average) and three scores). Despite the disappointment, he did combine with David Greene on one of the best play action plays I have ever seen:

Fred returned for a strong senior year that would see him earn All-SEC honors. He caught 49 passes for 801 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished his career third all-time in receptions at Georgia with 161 catches for 2,884 yards. He is currently second all-time in receiving touchdowns with 20. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and bounced around the NFL before finally giving up his football career. He eventually would land in the NBA Development League, picking back up the basketball career he gave up following his sophomore year at Georgia. (On a side note, watching Fred hit 6 straight free-throws down the stretch to beat the Gators in Gainesville is still one of my favorite memories of Georgia basketball.)

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