Sometimes the road to building a championship program is the road less traveled, and in Urban Meyer's case, that means extending a scholarship offer to a backup quarterback.
Perhaps Meyer has lost his mind a bit, or maybe he's brilliant. Personally, I think it's a little bit of both, and that is indeed what makes a great college coach and a recruiter.
The fact Gibson has picked up an offer from the Buckeyes is pretty impressive, as he was a backup for the Patriots last season to Tyler Cogswell, a three-star pocket passer who signed with Cincinnati.
As a sophomore, Gibson was 12-of-23 for 271 yards and four touchdowns, while adding 15 carries for 227 yards and five scores.
The nature of this offer is less surprising when you realize that it's not like Gibson was sitting on the bench handing out water bottles. According to his stats, he was able to see some playing time at quarterback and he capitalized on that. He also appears to be able to run judging by the 227 yards and five touchdowns, so this offer makes more sense. Gibson also checks in at 6'3'', 180 pounds.
Still, offering a player before you've even seen him lead a team as a starter at the varsity level? There's a very big difference between being a role player and being "the guy," both in terms of expectations and pressure. Ohio State isn't even sure yet if Gibson can be "the guy" at the high school level, let alone at the college level, yet Meyer is confident enough in what he sees to make an offer.
That's a pretty bold statement by Meyer.
This goes to show you that recruiting is all about potential though, and there's a lot riding on the first impressions with a recruit. Programs are starting to make offers earlier and earlier in an effort to establish a connection and foothold with a recruit that projects to have the intangibles that you look for in a four or 5-star player.
Getting to the table first is becoming a priority amongst the elite programs in the nation, because that's how intense the recruiting competition is getting. For all Meyer knows, if he doesn't offer the kid, Nick Saban could come out of nowhere and establish that affinity. (Heck, Saban may have tried to offer him in elementary school Note: sarcasm)
For all either coach knows, they could be offering the next great college football quarterback. Conversely, they could be wasting an offer on a player that doesn't pan out.
That's the risk you take when you make early offers. As a coach, you have to trust your instincts and experience as a talent evaluator in the hopes that the potential you see really does pan out.
Recruiting boiled down is essentially a game beyond the game of football. It has to do with strategy, wit and timing. As the Internet continues to evolve and increase the exposure of high school athletes, we'll start to see them getting attention sooner and sooner from college coaches.
We've already seen cases where that attention is extended to the middle school level, and frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if coaches find a way to somehow make their presence felt at the youth level as well. Sure, it could be for a charity, teaching event or some sort of camp, but everything—and I do mean everything—is becoming a recruiting opportunity for these big time coaches.
In Gibson's case, he appears to have the talent, and he already has offers from Notre Dame, Miami and Boston College as well.
How can you blame Meyer for wanting to throw his hat in the ring early before said ring gets overpopulated and he loses out on the chance to gain an early lead with a recruit?
Just how early is too early though?
That's the question the recruiting world will have to face soon enough.