McDONOUGH — The road of Antonio Gibson through college has been interesting to say the least and it wasn’t just a rise with Memphis that set him apart.

From his days at Eagle’s Landing High, Gibson had always stood out. Looking back to his junior and senior year stats, he was special and a threat all over the field. Not just offensively either.

He’s compiled over 3,132 all-purpose yards and 30 touchdowns with the Golden Eagles, but the work didn’t stop there for the McDonough product. Down at East Central Community College, Gibson’s work continued to show through it all.

Even though the route to the end of his college career has been as twisting as it could be, Gibson’s long journey taught him many different things.

“I’ve learned many things along the way and made way more family then I could ever imagine,” Gibson said. “At JUCO I learned that everyone wants the same thing you want so you have to work 10 times harder to stand out and you can’t do it alone. When I got to Memphis, I had to learn that everyone had talent so what is going to make me get on the field. I had to take criticism and you can take that to heart or you can take it as motivation and go to work and that’s what I did and the outcome of going to work and keeping God first and staying in touch with family and friends. I wouldn’t have asked for it any other way.”

Once getting to Memphis, it took Gibson no time to gather his bearing and become a featured receiver for their offense. In his first season at Memphis, Gibson was used sparingly, just six receptions for 99 yards and two touchdown receptions in 2018. But that was the beginning.

During the 2019 season, Gibson shone for the Tigers.

In 14 games, wherever Gibson was, he was a threat for an opposing team. At running back, he only had 33 rushes but compiled 369 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver, Gibson’s 38 receptions for 735 yards was a career high. Add in the eight touchdowns, Gibson could score almost anywhere.

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That second season was everything he dreamed of but, it came down to a note that he mistakenly saw that gave him questions of being able to contribute to the team.

“I didn’t take it to heart at all, but I put my head down and went to work,” Gibson said. “So, every time I got a touch or an opportunity to showcase my talent, I did with a chip on my shoulder.”

He’s been on TV, made a highlight on ESPN and made number of new fans for Memphis along with his teammates. But when you ask him about the impact of TV, he never saw it coming because if he was asked that two years ago, he couldn’t have told anyone that it’d be the outcome.

“It was all amazing the things we accomplished this year and how things turned out for us,” Gibson said. “If you were to ask me that before I came here, I couldn’t have told you that’s what I thought the outcome would be. But I’m glad and thankful that it did.”

Though the road has been producing for Gibson, the thought of teaching a younger player a new way to operating. He believes he’d teach a younger athlete to stay true to who they are.

“Don’t let your surroundings change who you really are and always keep God and family first,” Gibson said. “It’s extremely hard to be successful when hard times come, and you don’t have someone to talk to.”

The next steps for Gibson aren’t as clear but he’s got thoughts of reaching the NFL. With his workouts beginning soon for that transition, Gibson’s just looking for a shot to prove that he belongs on the upper echelon level of play.

The training he’s geared up for at EXOS in Texas has him preparing for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. But if someone lines up opposite him, expect him to not be stopped.

“Anyone who lines up in front of me is trying to stop me from my future,” Gibson said. “And no one is doing that.”

Sports Editor

Graduated from South Carolina State University in 2015. Been with the Henry Herald and Clayton News in two capacities as a sports journalist and interim sports editor.

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