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An in-depth look at Division III

Posted Feb. 4, 2002

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Gibbs looking to double up

In an era where finding a legitimate two-sport star in high school is becoming more and more of a rarity, Otterbein senior Jeff Gibbs is making the task look easy at the Division III level.

Gibbs, a four-year letterman on the Otterbein football and basketball squads, is on the verge of becoming the first athlete in Otterbein history to earn coaches' All-America honors in both the sports of football and basketball.

"I did not know that," Gibbs said when asked if he knew he could be the first. "I said all along I wanted to do that, to be first-team in both sports."

The statistics and credentials Gibbs has amassed over his collegiate career are astounding. On the gridiron, Gibbs holds school career records for receiving yards (2,476) and touchdown receptions (29). His 162 catches are second all-time. At the conclusion of his senior season, Gibbs was a consensus first team All-America, including honors from D3football.com. In addition, Gibbs received the Ed Sherman Award as the most outstanding receiver in the Ohio Athletic Conference, voted by conference coaches. Gibbs was also a two-time first team all-conference selection.

Football, however, is only half the story. Gibbs has stockpiled even more hardware on the basketball court. He was a preseason first-team All-American by D3hoops.com this past fall, second team following his junior season and honorable mention as a sophomore. He was selected the Mike Gregory Award winner as the most valuable player in the OAC as a sophomore. Gibbs has led Division III in rebounding the last two seasons, and has a recorded a double-double in all but one game he has played since the beginning of his junior season.

"I'm proud of all of them," Gibbs says of his accolades. "I really can't single one out as my favorite or that I'm most proud of."

Gibbs's size makes his basketball accomplishments seem even more remarkable. Otterbein's football and basketball media guides list him at 6-3, relatively small for someone patrolling the paint. Rumors, however, abound as to his actual height. "Honestly, I'm about 6-1," Gibbs admits.

Through the Cardinals' 21 games this season, Gibbs leads the team in scoring (22.3 points per game), rebounding (16.9 per game), field-goal percentage (67.2%), steals (2.5) and blocked shots (2.4).

"Jeff has done for us what other All-American players have done in the past. That is, take an average team and lift it to a national ranking," head basketball coach Dick Reynolds said. "Of course, his support cast helps with all that."

Support has been building for Gibbs to add another credential to his resume: national player of the year (awarded by the NABC).

"I think we would have to go a distance in the NCAA Tournament for that to happen," Reynolds said. "Our success as a team will help determine that. He certainly has the numbers to substantiate it."

Just how valuable is Gibbs to the team? The one game that Gibbs missed this season resulted in a 106-59 debacle of a loss to Mount Union on Dec. 15. It just so happened that Gibbs was in Salitillo, Mexico, participating in the Aztec Bowl that afternoon. The Aztec Bowl pits the best seniors in Division III football in America against the top college players in Mexico. Gibbs caught two balls for 28 yards and a touchdown as the American squad rolled 37-5.

"It was a lot of fun," Gibbs said of the trip. "It was a good experience to see and play with other good athletes from across the country."

When Gibbs was around for the return game, Otterbein beat Mount Union 79-73.

Even with all the success he has experienced at Otterbein, Gibbs is still unsure of his future. Playing professionally is certainly not out of the question.

"That would be my main goal right now. Either football or basketball. I guess I would prefer football. I mean, I'm basically a 6-1 post player, so it would probably be football," Gibbs said.

Regardless of what the future holds, Gibbs has established a legacy that will live forever in the annals of Otterbein athletics.

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