COLUMBIA — When South Carolina football added transfer defensive back Deangelo Gibbs to its 2023 roster, the name might have sounded familiar to SEC fans. However, before entering the transfer portal and signing up with the Gamecocks, Gibbs had not played for almost four years.
Gibbs was a four-star nominee who was in the top 50 at Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia. He accepted offers from 32 colleges, including South Carolina, and signed with Georgia in 2017. He played two seasons for the Bulldogs but struggled to live up to the recruiting hype, recording 10 total tackles in 13 appearances.
Gibbs moved to Tennessee in 2019 to play for former coach Jeremy Pruitt. He donned his first season as a redshirt, opting out for the following season to “focus on his academics.” Pruitt was fired shortly after the 2020 season after an internal university investigation found multiple Level I recruiting violations by the coaching staff.
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“After my redshirt year in Tennessee, as you know, COVID hit. It was busy, a lot of unanswered questions, so I decided to opt out,” Gibbs said. “I was still working and practicing with the team, but the university was busy at the time so I decided to step away from it because I didn’t want my name and image to be damaged. .. and now I’m here.”
How South Carolina rediscovered Gibbs
After leaving Tennessee, Gibbs found himself disoriented in a world that had always focused on athletics. He said he briefly enrolled at a small Florida university with hopes of playing there, but it ultimately “didn’t work out” and he began to prepare for life and a career after football. As a last-ditch effort, he entered the transfer portal after the 2022 season, and that’s when South Carolina called.
“Thoughts of not being able to return to the field definitely crossed my mind,” Gibbs said. “I came from great universities where they have the potential to send people into the NFL, and that was always my goal when I was in high school, but things didn’t go that way… One time I got the call to visit ( South Carolina), I couldn’t deny this opportunity. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life, whether it was playing football or working in the workforce, but now that I’m here, I’m taking full advantage of this opportunity.”
Gamecocks coach Shane Beamer was familiar with Gibbs. He was special teams coordinator and tight ends coach in Georgia during Gibbs’ 2017 freshman season. Beamer recruited Gibbs heavily, but it was Derek Moore who made the connection in South Carolina. Moore, the Gamecocks’ executive director of character and player development, forged a long-lasting relationship with Gibbs and his family during his 21-year association with Georgia Tech Football
“We kind of lost touch with him after he went to Tennessee … D-Mo actually mentioned Deangelo to me in late October,” Beamer said. “We promised him an opportunity to come in and compete and we’ll see what happens. He was great. Obviously he’ll be the first to tell you that he probably needs to lose weight and keep getting in shape. … . but he is an old soul, and he has great maturity about him.”
Where Gibbs fits into the Gamecocks list
Gibbs was No. 4 in the class of 2017 but also worked at wide receivers in Georgia and Tennessee. He said he plans to play mostly defensively with the Gamecocks but is open to getting involved on the offensive side if needed.
“When I got here, they asked me what I wanted to play and I said, ‘Hey, whatever suits the team, whatever suits the culture,'” Gibbs said. “I decided to play DB because I feel like you have to be more technically sound as a DB, you have to be more fundamentally sound… and I also think it gets you in better shape as a DB because you have to follow.” and hunt and tackle.”
The trip to South Carolina was not smooth, but Gibbs has no regrets about the challenges he faced in his football career. He said he feels more ready than ever to contribute to the team as a more complete person off the field.
“I wasn’t perfect when I left high school. I was young and I was caught in the spotlight, caught in the wrong things,” Gibbs said. “However, this opportunity shaped and shaped me to become a better man that I can really be… That’s one thing I can say about Coach Beamer, he wants to prepare us for life in general, not just this one few years. .. I see myself as a better man now, all round in every way.”