On a rebuilding Sequoyah team coming off a run to the Class AAAAAA quarterfinals, there will be at least one familiar face in the center of the defense.
Grant Gibson, a member of the Cherokee Tribune Super Six, anchored the Chiefs’ defense from his inside linebacker spot a season ago, and he could be even more important as a senior.
“We lost a lot of talented seniors last year,” Gibson said. “I’ve just been trying to take their spots. You have to keep up with the team. Coaches have been doing well keeping everyone together and trying to get all the new guys up to speed.”
The first thing Gibson can do to keep the team moving in the right direction is repeat his production from his junior season.
Last year, Gibson led Sequoyah with 120 tackles, including 15 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks.
“I just try to play with emotion,” Gibson said. “When you’re in the middle of everything, you want to do everything you can to get in on every play. Obviously, you have to work in the weight room. It’s a physical position, but that’s what I like about it.”
As important as his play will be, Gibson must also emerge as more of a leader last year.
He spent the first three years of his high school career playing alongside Adam LaSelva. The pair combined for 326 stops last season, but with LaSelva off to Presbyterian, Gibson must fill his role while adjusting to new teammates around him.
“Playing with another person isn’t going to fill LaSelva’s slot,” Gibson said. “It’s more about teaching them. Having that chemistry was awesome, because we played with each other for three years. Being a senior and being a leader is awesome. You have to be able to show them what to do and make them comfortable in the position they have to play. We have to communicate to build that trust and reliability.”
While Gibson is hoping for a repeat of last season, there is one place he would like to improve.
As good as he was against the run, he said he can still be better in pass coverage, and he spent his summer working on that aspect of his game.
“I just want to get better in my pass coverage,” he said. “We’ll play some teams that are going to throw the ball some. I’m also working on my speed a little bit this offseason to hopefully help with that.”
Gibson’s numbers and summer performances have begun to garner some college attention.
He picked up offers from Bethel, Prebyterian and Delaware State this offseason, but with interest coming from other schools, he said he wants to know all his options before making a decision.
“I’m open to anything,” he said. “I just want to make sure I’m getting the best opportunity I can.”