QB Torrance Gibson To UT Bigger Than Peyton Manning?
By Dan Harralson
Torrance Gibson is all over Twitter, just like his game is all over the gridiron.
Gibson received his 10,000th Twitter follower last week. It's a reflection of the American Heritage (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) product's game and his up and coming football career.
As a junior, he produced 1,789 passing yards and 19 touchdowns against three interceptions while rushing for 1,063 yards and 10 touchdowns. The upcoming senior has one of the most anticipated recruiting decisions that college football has seen in some time. One would think that the highly-touted Gibson would have at least Florida, Florida State and/or Miami in his top three, right?
Guess again. No. He apparently is leaving the Sunshine State and will be making his decision sooner rather than later. May 5, he has said.
Gibson also has announced that Auburn, Ohio State and Tennessee are all finalists to become his college destination. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound dual-threat quarterback, rated the nation's best at his position by the 247Composite ranking, is ideal for all three offensive systems.
With size resembling 2010 Heisman Trophy winner and Pro Bowl quarterback Cam Newton, one would think that Gibson is a shoe-in for Gus Malzahn's Auburn system, right? Maybe not. The depth chart could be a deciding factor, even though Gibson is probably better than what Auburn will have returning when he's eligible for the 2015 season (Jeremy Johnson, Tyler Queen and Sean White will have eligibility remaining for the Tigers).
Ohio State seems to be a natural fit as well. Gibson in Urban Meyer's system could be just as effective as Tim Tebow. Gibson also is a perfect fit to replace the graduating Braxton Miller. But is Ohio State the perfect fit for the South Floridian? Will the No. 1 quarterback escape the chance to play in college football's No. 1 conference?
That leaves the final school in Gibson's top three, Tennessee. The Vols play in the SEC — and the Vols need him. Tennessee needs Gibson just as much as Gibson needs Tennessee, but then again another top quarterback 20 years ago had a similar situation. Circa 1994, Peyton Manning chose to shed his father's footsteps at Ole Miss, but stayed within the SEC. Manning didn't need Tennessee, although Tennessee needed a touted quarterback to emerge and lead the Vols back to national prominence.
The situation in 2014 is similar. Phillip Fulmer was coaching UT for the second season, recruiting for year three, much like Butch Jones' Rocky Top tenure. Jones can hand Gibson the keys to his offense, which fits Gibson's read-option ability. By 2015, the Vols' current youthful talent will be experienced. Vols fans hope the program adds another Top 5 recruiting class as Jones ensures the Vols surge back to national prominence.
The 2015 season will showcase running backs Jalen Hurd and Derrell Scott as sophomores, Josh Malone as a sophomore wide receiver, Marquez North as a junior receiver, Daniel Helm and Ethan Wolf at tight end and freshman offensive talent entering with Gibson. Preston Williams (four-star receiver), Jack Jones (four-star offensive tackle), Rocky Reid (three-star running back) and Zach Stewart (three-star offensive tackle) all are set to play offense and would provide a versatile Gibson the chance to flourish in Jones' system.
On paper, the 2015 Tennessee offense with Gibson looks like it has SEC championship game potential with a chance to develop into College Football Playoff material in the coming years. But much like Manning had a decision to make on January 25, 1994, Gibson will make his early next week.
Gibson's college decision may be as big as any quarterback considering UT since Manning 20 years ago, and if Gibson chooses the Big Orange, it very well could be make a similar impact. The entire college football world, especially Auburn, Ohio State and Tennessee, will wait impatiently until Gibson reveals his choice.