Friday, January 3, 2014


Column: Next season, watch out for KU walk-on lineman Gibson


For Kansas State, Jordy Nelson outran Aqib Talib and the wind on his way to one of his 122 receptions, one of his 11 touchdown catches, and 68 of his 1,606 receiving yards as a senior in 2007. Defensive lineman Ryan Mueller and safety Ty Zimmerman earned first-team All-Big 12 honors this season.

For Michigan State, Kyler Elsworth was one of the two linebackers who flew over the line to make the fourth-down stop that vaulted the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory against favored Stanford.

Nelson, Mueller, Zimmerman and Elsworth all entered school as walk-ons and never will exit the memory banks of supporters of their schools.

Kansas University needs to do a better job in that area, but Connor Embree did perform well in 2013 at the most difficult job in football, returning punts. And a big walk-on generated a loud buzz during his first season on campus.

Coach Charlie Weis, former offensive line coach Tim Grunhard and fifth-year senior center Gavin Howard all singled out Joe Gibson, who spent his first season out of Rockhurst High as a red-shirt center.

“He’s the real deal, now,” Grunhard said of Gibson with a few weeks remaining in the season. Howard stabilized the center position midway through the season. Mike Smithburg couldn’t get his snaps down in the spring game and moved to guard. Pat Lewandowski had similar troubles and shifted to tackle. Dylan Admire also had a tough time at center.

Howard’s eligibility is used up, but he insists there is no need to panic.

“Gibson, man, he’s a walk-on, but he’s not talented like a walk-on,” Howard said. “He’s really a scholarship-level talent.”

Gibson measured at 6-foot-3 and 274 pounds coming into the season, but has packed on so much muscle that he’s close to 300 pounds. Jacob Bragg, a 6-4, 308-pound center from Nacogdoches, Texas, has made a verbal commitment to attend KU. Junior college signee Keyon Haughton of Georgia Military has experience at guard and center.

Don’t look for Gibson’s twin, Thomas, to walk onto the football team to join the competition. Also a student at KU, Thomas is 100-some pounds lighter and about a half-foot shorter than Joe.

You can bet the twins’ Uncle Harry will be in the stands for all of Joe’s home games. Why should the next four years be any different? Harry and Becky Gibson are mainstays at KU football, men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball games.

Harry, a standout at Wyandotte High, started three seasons for the KU basketball team (1962-64) and as a senior was a captain, named to the five-member All-Academic Big 12 team, and received the Dr. Forrest C. “Phog” Allen Award, given to KU’s senior academic athlete of the year.

Paul Gibson, the twins’ father, is 16 years younger than his brother Harry, who, by the way, looks as if he could still whip half the student body in a game of one-on-one.


Andy Hess 4 years, 3 months ago

Nelson outran Talib because he pushed off before the catch. That's offensive pass interference if I've ever seen it.

Lucas Town 4 years, 3 months ago

Clearly you have no idea about what is a penalty and what is not. As much as I love KU football, there was no penalty on that play. Talib got his revenge later in that game.

Andy Hess 4 years, 3 months ago

Oh get over yourself, Ed Hochuli. Watch the video. Nelson clearly has his arm fully extended and is pushing Talib away just before the catch. The contact even makes Talib stumble a bit, which slowed him down.

Lucas Town 4 years, 3 months ago

Nelson's left arm is being held by Talib and Nelson simply fans Talib's arm away and finishes the play. Not OPI. This was 2007 let it go, it's history.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 3 months ago

Wow. Things are really slow - and desperate.

John Myers 4 years, 3 months ago

It's like sometimes you just wake up, vomit a bunch of words onto a page, and publish it.

Doug Cramer 4 years, 3 months ago

There is something going on with Weis's JUCO heavy recruiting that is being over looked. THere is a major lack of young talent inflow into the program.

The talent level of this team is so heavily weighted toward the junior and senior classes.

Once we lose the likes of Pierson, Miller, Bourbon, Shepherd, Ben Heeney, Sendish, Cox, Goodman, and Reynolds....this program will be back to the Terry Allen days. Actually I think we're already there...and we're playing juniors and seniors !

Think we're bad now...just wait a couple - three years.

Don't know how to say this nicely...but thats why Zenger should have removed Weis. Weis is definitely a good dude...and fun with the media. He's one hell of an offensive coordinator in the NFL. But has never proven himself as a head coach in college football.

We all wondered why the national football analysts were scratching their heads when Zenger hired Weis...well now we know.

John Myers 4 years, 3 months ago

Quick, call them up - I'm sure everyone in the program is overlooking that. Good catch.

Doug Cramer 4 years, 3 months ago

John - Do you see any media documentation written on that topic ? Please direct me to it if it's out there...

Dirk Medema 4 years, 3 months ago

Media documentation of your imagination or lack of checking facts?

The facts are that while Charlie did say he had a 5 year plan when he was hired (since revised upward to ?7?8? years), he also said he had analyzed the number of players in each class and had a specific number of JC players to be taken in each recruiting class. This is because we have lost half of each upperclassmen recruiting class. You're probably capable of checking this with even a little time and initiative; no jour no's required.

If you've been playing attention, you also would have heard Charlie say that this class will be very JC heavy again (again, check-out how many Jr/Sr's from previous recruiting classes are no longer on campus), and that it will swing more towards HS recruits after this year. This is the year by year plan that Charlie developed as a part of the "5 yr" plan. The alternative is to get marginal, young HS recruits playing against skilled upperclassmen resulting in blow-out status quo.

The other fact that you appear to be missing is the number of players, like Big12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year Isaiah Johnson, that come from the JC's with 3 years of eligibility or 3 yrs to play 2. Even the players that you list aren't all leaving the same year. Before you start ranting, and telling the media they need to do all the research, maybe you should pay attention and do some basic checking.

Michael Sillman 4 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for a succinct analysis that shows the silliness of the sky is falling if we keep signing juco players posters. I am pretty sure that the coaching staff can do the math to keep from going overboard.

Right now we need to pull in the best talent available regardless of the source: high school, juco, or transfer.

Ron Prichard 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm not sure, but I think this article was going to be about a walk-on KU football player but somewhere along the way it got lost and then was about his family and then it was about some players that used to play, did I mention there was a comment about the Rose Bowl? Texas played USC in one of the best Rose Bowl games in history and Texas won a national championship in that game. It was Mack Brown's only championship. Mack is a great guy, but he wasn't the best coach. He could get talent but didn't always utilize it well. Speaking of talent, KU is short on it. One of the best short players I can remember is McCluster. McCluster didn't play at KU but he plays for the Chiefs. I went to a Chiefs game this year. Ticket prices have gotten out of hand.

I'll hand it to TK, I couldn't follow this article to save my life but its making me laugh. Speaking of laughs, has anyone watched Bill Burr's standup? If not, go to youtube and search for "Bill Burr Muffins." Funniest thing you will watch in a long time.

Can I have a job, LJW?

Dirk Medema 4 years, 3 months ago

You'll fit right in, and be funnier in the process. Good job.

Mike Barnhart 4 years, 3 months ago

Nailed it! Reminds me a bit of Grandpa Simpson.

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