|Decorated Skyhawk Joe Gibbs gets shot to be battering Ram |
|Posted: Thursday, June 3, 2010 5:15 pm |
| Joe Gibbs has a name suited for professional football. |
Now, the UT Martin product has a chance to prove he has the skill set suitable for the game as well.
The three-time All American and two-time All-Ohio Valley Conference honoree, who has the same name as the legendary Washington Redskins’ head coach, signed a free agent contract with the National Football League’s St. Louis Rams on Wednesday.
“Joe was a high school guy who signed with us four years ago,” said head coach Jason Simpson of the 6-foot-5, 285-pound lineman. “He grew bigger and stronger over the years and turned into one of the best FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) linemen in the country.”
Gibbs started 11 games at right tackle for the Skyhawks in 2009 and did not allow a sack all season. He played a key role in UT Martin’s offensive success in ’09, as the Skyhawks were third in the Ohio Valley Conference in rushing offense, second in total offense, second in scoring and first in passing offense.
Gibbs’ strong play earned him several national accolades. In addition to being an All-OVC first-team selection, he was also named an Associated Press FCS All-American and was also the only OVC player to be named to the American Football Coaches Association FCS All-American squad. Before the season, he was named a second-team preseason All-American by the Consensus Draft Services following a second-team all-conference selection in 2008.
All in all, Gibbs started in 37 of the 40 games in his career, including 31 consecutive contests on the offensive line to close out his career. The last two seasons, he graded out at 87 percent and didn’t allow a single sack in 23 starts.
“With Joe’s character and great work ethic, he will represent UT Martin well in the NFL,” said Simpson.
Gibbs spent his first 11⁄2 seasons at UT Martin as a tight end.
With the Rams, Gibbs could possibly help block for the first pick in the 2010 NFL Draft in former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford.
While St. Louis chose Indiana University’s Rodger Saffold with its second-round pick (33rd overall) in April, the team had a void in the offensive line when seven-year veteran Jacob Bell underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on the first day of organized team activities.
Gibbs’ signing marks the first time a UT Martin player has struck a free agent deal with an NFL team since Sam Dudley (Seattle) and Andre Langley (Arizona) inked deals in 1988.
If Gibbs makes the Rams’ roster, he will be the first UT Martin player to appear on an NFL roster since Fred Thomas. Thomas spent 12 seasons in the NFL
(the last eight with the New Orleans Saints) before retiring in 2007.