No. 130: Deonte Gibson, #98, DE, Northwestern
2011 Stats: Redshirted
Arguably the biggest story to come out of Northwestern's spring practices was the emergence of freshman defensive end Deonte Gibson, who spent his freshman year rehabbing and adding size. All of a sudden, the 215-pound kid is nearing 250 pounds, and his speed off the edge is still terrifyingly good. Gibson led the Northwestern defense in the spring game with 2.5 tackles-for-loss and 2 sacks.
Gibson, as mentioned before, will be a redshirt freshman next year, and he missed action last year to improve his knee. It doesn't take a lot of experience to pin your ears back and get after a quarterback, but there's a lot more to it. Gibson hasn't been able to prove he can do the rest of what goes into being a force at DE outside of the 15 spring sessions.
Gibson was afforded the opportunity to show off his skills with the first team because of an injury that kept out returning starter Quentin Williams. Williams should be healthy for the fall, so there should be a ferocious position battle here.
Williams may start in Week 1 owing to his edge in experience, but if Gibson stays healthy, he should take over the starting role at some point in the season. He's a double-digit sack guy in the making, so while his season stats may end up being modest, we expect him to be the difference-maker in at least one Big Ten contest next year.