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November 29, 2012
The Army All-American Bowl has a long history of explosive playmakers at the wide receiver position.
From Ted Ginn Jr. to DeSean Jackson to Stefon Diggs, the game has showcased some of the best speedsters to play college football recently.
Hoping to continue that trend is Cleveland Heights (Ohio) product Shelton Gibson. The Rivals100 prospect was presented his jersey on Thursday afternoon at his high school.
"It's a great feeling," Gibson said. "I grew up watching DeSean Jackson playing in the game and then last year with Stefon Diggs, so I knew I just had to play in that game."
Jackson put on a show back in the 2005 game, but his performance was highlighted by an attempted flip into the end zone that saw him land short at the one-yard line. Gibson hopes to leave that part out of his own performance.
"I'm not going to do that," Gibson said with a laugh. "I'm gonna run it straight in."
People around the state of Ohio know all about Gibson's speed and ability to make things happen when the ball is in his hands. The Army Bowl will give him a chance to showcase those abilities for a larger audience.
"I'm looking at it as a business trip," Gibson stated. "I want to show my talents nationally. I was able to do it for my state and my city, but now I want to go national and show people that I'm ready to play college ball. Playing against All-Americans, that's going to show that I'm ready."
While Gibson just capped off a dominant senior season that has resulted in this selection, things didn't always come this easy for him. There was a time not too long ago when Gibson wasn't sure football would be in his future.
"Back in eighth grade I didn't know if I was still going to play football," Gibson said. "Everyone said (Cleveland Heights head coach) Jeff Rotsky puts a lot of pressure on you. Over the years I've found out that he puts pressure on you because he wants you to become a man. It's not all about football with him, it's about turning you into a man."
Turning into a man is exactly what Gibson has done over the last two years and his high school coach couldn't be more proud of him.
"He's grown up a lot," Rotsky said. "People have a misguidance of Shelton because he is such a go-lucky kid. He's a fun kid and he's competitive and he cares about his team. If I was going to go to war or needed something with my family, I wouldn't hesitate to call Shelton Gibson. I know he's learned a lot about loyalty, especially over the last few years."
"As a player, we knew Shelton was special very early on," Rotsky said. "His freshman year in the freshman championship game, he caught a touchdown pass where it looked like he broke his leg. His leg just went in a totally different angle and he still made the catch, so we knew he was going to be special. When the ball is in his hands, special things happen. Punt return, kick return, anything can happen. He's a terrific talent."
Gibson and Rotsky will share the experience in San Antonio together and the speedy receiver wouldn't have it any other way. "It's going to be great having my coach that I love down there with me," Gibson said. "I'll definitely be playing hard with him right there in the stands."