Wide receiver registration came and went at the Elite Underclassmen Camp in Orlando this past Sunday with West Orange (Fla.) wide receiver Jayden Gibson nowhere to be found. He was on the roster for the event, which was hosted at his high school's stadium, but hadn't come through the gates by the time the final position groups took the field.
Gibson rushed home that morning from a track tournament in Jacksonville, and was able to make it to camp just in time to participate in athletic drills and face defensive backs in one-on-ones. Gibson was identifiable the moment he took the field, as his 6-foot-6 frame stood out among the wide receivers at the event.
He put that frame to good use, making several acrobatic grabs look easy as he leaped into the air and high-pointed the football. Height and speed are gifts from above, Gibson shared, while the technical side of playing receiver - route-running, getting in and out of breaks, creating separation, and the likes - is his focus during camp settings and training.
"At camps like this it's kind of hard to get a lot of reps, you know, and I'm not the type to take off [of] other people's plate necessarily, you know, [I'm] trying to make sure everyone gets to eat," Gibson told AllGators on Sunday. "So I come over here and just go out there and make sure I'm doing good every rep I get ... making sure I go there and put my best foot forward, and win that rep, try new things, you know, trying to get ready for the next level."
If you didn't know Gibson's name prior to Sunday's event, you have plenty of reason to now. Gibson's recruitment exploded following his nine-touchdown junior season at West Orange, which led to 33 scholarship offers since late October 2020. Gibson earned a spot on Sports Illustrated All-American's list of top performers after Sunday's camp, and has scheduled numerous official visits with an idea of which five schools will receive one before wrapping up his recruitment during the early part of his senior season.
Gibson was originally scheduled to officially visit Florida from June 4-6, but has pushed that visit to the fall (date TBA, but it will be during a home game weekend). Gibson will instead unofficially visit UF on June 1, the first day in-person recruiting will be allowed by the NCAA after a 15-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"[Florida is an] NFL receiver factory in my eyes, like coach Billy Gonzales, he knows what he's doing, he knows how to develop guys. He sent him to the league every year." Gibson proclaimed about the Gators. "Coach Dan Mullen is one of the best offensive head coaches in the nation, one that has one of the most high-powered offenses. We look over the past, however many years ... one of the best offenses is always run by him."
Gibson has scheduled officials to Baylor, Tennessee, and Miami. He believes Florida State will receive an official visit as well, while he plans to unofficially visit South Carolina, a program he spoke highly of despite not planning to slot the Gamecocks into his official visit schedule.
In addition to Gonzales and Mullen, Gibson regularly communicates with Keiwan Ratliff on Florida's player personnel staff as well. Ratliff used to coach Gibson's seven-on-seven football team, so their connection extends beyond Gibson's recruitment to Florida.
It won't impact his decision, Gibson emphasized, but his parents as well as his uncle are Florida graduates. He admitted that he was a Gators fan while growing up and has been to the university before, but repeated that his recruitment will end with a "business decision."