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2020 Tennessee X-Factors: Deangelo Gibbs

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Can Gibbs make an impact?

Georgia State v Tennessee Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

There are a few players on the roster that could take Tennessee from good to great in 2020. In this series, we’ll be examining a few of those guys a little closer. First up — Georgia transfer Deangelo Gibbs.

Gibbs transferred to Tennessee following the 2018 season, where he played sparingly for the Bulldogs. The move forced Gibbs to sit out the 2019 season, due to NCAA rules. However, Gibbs was able to practice with the team, which is where things get interesting.

The former four-star prospect spent time on both sides of the ball, working at his traditional safety spot and also at wide receiver. Jeremy Pruitt knew Gibbs as a prospect and was well-aware of what he had done at receiver at the high school level. Now with Jauan Jennings and Marquez Callaway out of the picture, the potential path to playing time for Gibbs on offense is as wide open as it will ever be.

Josh Palmer will assume No. 1 receiver duties for Tennessee, joined by senior Brandon Johnson and sophomore Ramel Keyton. From there, the receiver rotation is a total unknown. USC transfer Velus Jones will be in the equation, along with Cedric Tillman. Four four-star freshmen — Jimmy Calloway, Dee Beckwith, Malachi Wideman and Jalin Hyatt — will also get their chances to play early on.

For Gibbs, a former top 50 prospect, it’s a fresh start. He appeared in 13 games over the span of two years at Georgia before looking for a new home. Now he’s found one at Tennessee, along with a new position.

Gibbs was a star defensive back and receiver at Grayson high school. As you can see in the highlights below, his ball skills are apparent. So is his downfield speed, something that Tennessee has been lacking in recent seasons.

Gibbs made his biggest impact on the defensive side of the ball in high school, which is why his offensive numbers lagged behind. His 6-2, 200 pound frame is plenty big enough for the receiver position, which goes along with potentially elite athletic ability.

Wes Rucker of GoVols247 had this to say after his limited viewing of a spring practice session in 2019.

I don’t know what his 40 time is, but he plays plenty fast, and he just glides all over the field. He’s twitchier than it seems at first glance because of the way he glides. He’s also a good leaper, and he’s used that to his advantage to make plays on both sides of the ball.

Each of those attributes are obvious when looking at Gibbs as a high school prospect. One can only imagine what Gibbs could be if he had focused on that position over the last few seasons.

The toolbox certainly seems stocked for Gibbs, now it becomes a question of whether or not he can put it all together. Things didn’t work out at Georgia, and quite honestly Gibbs didn’t help himself much off the field. It’s impossible to know the full story as to why his time at Georgia ended like it did, but it’s now up to him to make something out of his final two seasons in college.

The door is wide open for him in Knoxville — and Tennessee could certainly use another elite level athlete on the field.