Rockhurst (MO) offensive lineman Joe Gibson grew up in a family rich in Kansas history. With interest from Kansas State, and scholarship offers from Penn, Idaho, and Western Michigan, the 2013 prospect committed to walk-on to play for the Jayhawks on Friday.
“It really feels good,” Gibson said, a big smile spreading across his face. “I don’t have to change my wardrobe at all, because all I have is KU stuff. It’s a good feeling.”
As legacies go, the newest member of Charlie Weis’ recruiting class isn’t your average second-generation football player. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound road grader is related to Jayhawk royalty.
“My great uncle, Ray Evans, played football and basketball there,” he said of the two-sport star. “He had his jerseys retired at Allen Fieldhouse and Memorial Stadium. My uncle, Harry Gibson, he played basketball there too.”
Widely-regarded as the greatest athlete ever to play at Kansas, Evans was a football and basketball All-American. He’s the only player ever to lead the nation in passing and interceptions in the same season, and is still considered among the best to ever step on the court for the Jayhawks.
“My whole family, they were all really excited,” Gibson said. “They were all really supportive throughout the whole thing. They would support any school I go to, but they are really happy that it’s KU.”
One of the biggest factors in landing the All-State blocker was offensive line coach Tim Grunhard. The ten-year NFL veteran and former Kansas City Chiefs center worked hard to build a relationship with Gibson, and it paid off.
“We get along really well,” Gibson said of Grunhard. “He’s one of the main reasons I chose KU. It’s a pretty good feeling, because I know he knows what he’s doing. I’ll be playing center, and I know I’ll be able to learn a lot from him.”
Gibson paused for a moment, then nodded his head. “Because I’ve known him so long, the trust has really built up. I think that helps a lot.”
Gibson spent time with the Jayhawks head coach during his visit. And like other KU recruits, he was quick to point on Weis’ no-nonsense approach.
“I had a meeting with Coach Weis when I went up and visited last week,” he said. “He just reiterated what Coach Grunhard told me, that I have to go in, work hard, and I’ll have a chance to earn a scholarship.”
Gibson chose Kansas over Kansas State, despite a late push from the Wildcats. Both schools offered him the opportunity to walk-on and earn a scholarship, but after his visits, there was a clear separation in his mind.
“The biggest difference for me was the school,” he said. “The campus and everything, I just liked KU so much better. I wanted to go somewhere I wanted to go to school, too, and KU was definitely that choice.”
After a long pause, he smiled wide. “KU was definitely a better pick for me.”