The Torrance Gibson Sweepstakes Continued
By Dan Harralson
College football recruiting is unparalleled to any other sport professionally and collegiately.
Peyton Manning, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony have shown free agency can make for a recruiting-type circus, but it is still unmatched by the suspense and excitement of college recruiting.
The Torrance Gibson sweepstakes are in full force as select teams battle for the letter of intent from one of the most prized prospects. Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Ohio State are the favorites "in order," according to Gibson's May 5 announcement. But who really stands where within the top four?
Tennessee seems to be the ideal situation and place for Gibson to take his talents away from South Beach. The Vols can offer playing time and a resurgence back to national prominence with Gibson as a central figure, and in the best conference. The Vols' depth chart is in Gibson's favor as Justin Worley will have graduated, Josh Dobbs will be a junior in 2015 and Riley Ferguson will be a redshirt sophomore.
Even though Gibson should flourish in Butch Jones' offense with read-option schemes, Gibson would be the perfect fit in Gus Malzahn's offensive system. But sometimes the perfect fit is not always the ideal situation. Just look at the Tigers' depth chart upon Gibson's arrival. The current American Heritage quarterback would see Nick Marshall graduating, but moreso than at Tennessee, there are a plethora of quality quarterbacks waiting to run Malzahn's system. The 2013 Elite 11 MVP quarterback Sean White will either be a redshirt freshman or a sophomore in 2015. Jeremy Johnson will be a junior with starts on his résumé, and touted class of 2015 quarterback Tyler Queen has verbally committed to Auburn.
That leads into Gibson's third team: LSU. Les Miles is an underrated coach and he has been successful following legendary coach Nick Saban on the Bayou by continuing to recruit well, play solid defense and run a pro-style offensive attack — until now. The Bengal Tigers will go away from their identity and implement the spread offense. Will it work? I guess time will tell, but many times it's a bad idea. Just ask Tommy Tuberville and Phillip Fulmer, who went to the spread. It essentially cost them their jobs. Ask Gene Chizik, as well. He could have and should have continued running the spread after Malzahn departed for Arkansas State.
It's all about identity and fitting into the right situation, and Ohio State offers both for Gibson (just like Tennessee). Urban Meyer's system has produced stud college quarterbacks like Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Braxton Miller. Ohio State also offers a much easier road to the College Football Playoff by playing in the Big Ten.
The Buckeyes know that having Gibson in Columbus would be great, but they can survive without him. If Gibson does not commit to Urban Meyer, Meyer can survive with another quarterback late on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten's geographic footprint.
With Ohio State and Tennessee seemingly the top two fits for the five-star quarterback, can Tennessee survive if Gibson goes elsewhere? In the last few weeks, four 2015 quarterbacks targeted by Tennessee verbally committed to other schools. With Brandon Wimbush choosing Penn State, Zach Gentry to Texas and Dwayne Lawson choosing Miami, Tennessee needs Gibson more than the others, especially after UT did not sign a quarterback in their top-five class last February.
Tennessee's definitely all-in for Gibson (so is the fan base; just look at Twitter). With the uncertainty of LSU's new spread attack and Auburn's jam-packed quarterback depth chart, Ohio State seems to be on the same playing field as the Vols.
With Gibson indicating he'll wait until December to make his commitment and teams going all-in for the American Heritage talent, the pursuit of winning the TG6 sweepstakes turns into the survival of fittest. One school will be proclaimed; the others will turn to less desirable contingency plans.