If it seemed like it took DeAngelo Gibbs and his Grayson High teammates days to beat Roswell for a state title this weekend, that’s because it did.
The game started on Saturday and took a slice from Sunday before the Rams found a way to secure a 23-20 victory.
“Like a roller coaster with no seat belt and no safety rules or anything,” Gibbs said. “Just go with the flow and at the end of the day we pulled it out with a team effort.”
Grayson won the Georgia High School Association’s Class 7A title in an epic overtime clash that featured two teams rated among the top 15 nationally by several polls, including USA Today.
Roswell scored with no time left in regulation. The ensuing extra point meant a 20-20 tie. It meant a few more rounds. The last high school game in the history of the Georgia Dome was a classic.
The nation’s No. 3 safety caught 4 passes for 68 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown catch in the first half. That only advanced the notion among recruiters and scouts that Gibbs also might be the top prospect at receiver in the state of Georgia.
“This was something you dream (about) every night as a little kid,” said Gibbs, who added 5 tackles. “Growing up, winning a state championship and bringing it back to your town.”
But Gibbs is rated as a safety for good reason. There was one play in the second half that screamed why. Gibbs came up to make a play on nimble Roswell quarterback Malik Willis.
Wills — who led Roswell in rushing with 40 yards — is heading to Virginia Tech. He’ll get a shot at quarterback. If that doesn’t stick, he’s exactly what the Hokies are looking for at defensive back.
Gibbs had him in the crosshairs but was felled by a block in the back. The 4-star prospect known as “Hercules” popped back up and tracked down Willis on the other side of the field.
He was in on the tackle about the same time the long arching parabola of that penalty flag hit the ground.
“I’m just playing out there,” Gibbs said. “If I get knocked down then I’m getting right back up. Like a cat. I’m up. I just made an instinctive football play. That kind of put a little fire behind me after that.”
I’ve laid eyes on a lot of good stuff from Gibbs over the last two years. I’ve never seen anything quite like that. From just about anybody.
“I couldn’t have done any of this without these guys,” Gibbs said. “…I love each and every one of them and you know now we’re going to Disney World.”
The nation’s No. 40 overall prospect found his long-time “road dog” Breon Dixon several times and hugged and slapped hands.
“I feel on top of the world,” he said to no one and everyone in particular.
Gibbs finally left the Georgia Dome to board the team bus just before 1 a.m. after playing in one of the best prep games that facility has hosted.
“This was one of the days I live for,” said Gibbs, who said the state championship victory and career accomplishment made it the best day of his life.
That all took place in the first hour of a Sunday. The plan after that was to go home and find a way to sleep. Then he was off to Athens for his last college visit.
He’s been to Georgia at least two dozen times, but he’s still going once more.
“I will make it work,” Gibbs said. “I will get up and get going.”
What can Georgia do to make that abbreviated trip his best college visit?
“It is nothing I can see,” Gibbs said. “It is what I can hear.”
That will be one last chance for the coaches and players to reel him to Athens.
Gibbs — one of the nation’s most sought-after prospects the last three years — received his first major offers in the summer before his freshman year of high school. He will graduate this month and become a mid-year enrollee in January.
He told DawgNation he would wear No. 2 at Georgia.
“If I chose Georgia, I would wear No. 2,” he said. “That’s the only available number that can play both sides (of the ball) and (Maurice Smith) is gone next year. I want ‘Mo’ to pass me down that number if I do go.”
There has been a horde of official visitors at Georgia since Friday and Saturday. Gibbs likely will only have a few hours on Sunday with those guys.
Alabama had told Gibbs it needs him. The Crimson Tide have painted a picture of a great opportunity. This decision is tough. Gibbs said it would be tough to tell Nick Saban no.
Where does he rank on the board at Alabama at safety?
“Walk right in and go,” Gibbs said, while making a gesture with both hands that indicated the spot on the floor next to him was his for the taking.
It can’t help but mean something when the Crimson Tide say that. Alabama has also offered him the chance to play on both sides of the ball, too.
His public decision is still set for the Under Armour All-American game on Jan. 1. Gibbs will wind up taking official visits to Alabama, Auburn and Georgia. I can’t see any way he goes anywhere but Alabama or Georgia.
Grayson will finish the 2016 season ranked as one of the top teams in the nation. The lone loss to IMG Academy will keep them out of the national championship discussion.
If those two teams played again? That would be another game worth the price of any admission.
“That loss got us all closer actually,” Gibbs said. “From that day forward, we didn’t plan on losing any more games.”