- Tom VanHaaren, ESPN Staff Writer
Most high school football players dream only of playing in the NFL, but junior offensive lineman Reilly Gibbons (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg Catholic) wants to take that one step further. Gibbons doesn't want to just play in the NFL, but hopes to one day become an attorney for the league.
"[Reilly] wants to be an attorney like his mom, and there are a few local players that have been attorneys in the NFL that have been successful," Gibbons' dad, Shannon, said. "We have a few friends that have done that as well, and since sixth or seventh grade Reilly has wanted to help people, especially athletes."
The 6-foot-6, 272-pound lineman is well on his way to the first step of the process by gaining scholarship offers to top college programs across the country. Illinois, Miami (Fla), Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and West Virginia make up some of the schools that have already extended offers to Gibbons.
The process has started quickly for a prospect who only recently started playing on the offensive line. Prior to this season Gibbons was a tight end for his high school team, but he has embraced his new role.
"When I moved to offensive tackle that's when all this popped for me. People like my size and quick feet," Gibbons said. "I have big broad shoulders and people see me as the big 6-6, 315-pound left tackle. I definitely have the ability to play tight end, but left tackle is something I really enjoy."
With the size of a tackle and athleticism of a tight end, Gibbons will continue to see offers roll in. He’s looking for a good academic fit, too, something that he and his family are putting a premium on.
That aspect is a part of what has Michigan in the conversation for the Watch List junior lineman.
"There are always schools that have great academics, but Michigan has a great law school," he said. "One of my cousin's good friends on the team was an offensive lineman who took his fifth year of eligibility and went to law school. That sparked my interest that I could enjoy my last year and go to law school."
That cousin is current Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons, which is another reason why Gibbons has interest in Michigan. The two haven’t gotten to see each other that often since Gibbons has been at Michigan, but when they do they talk about his cousin's time spent in Ann Arbor.
Of course having family on the team gives Michigan somewhat of an advantage. Gibbons has another route to find out about the Wolverines other than through research and the coaches.
"With Brendan there it opens up a line of communication with the team that I wouldn't have anywhere else," he said. "Instead of being just Reilly Gibbons, I'm Brendan's cousin and there's more of a family feel."
Michigan is a school that's sticking out with the Gibbons family for many reasons. The opportunities that would be provided throughan education at Michigan and the football program are exactly what the family is looking for.
"He's a great student and we're looking for the best education possible with the best football program possible," Shannon Gibbons said. "If he had the opportunity to go to the combine at the end of his college career and go to the pros, or still have the ability to be an attorney, that would be pretty incredible."
There is plenty of time for the Gibbons family to research schools and figure out the best place for Reilly. With a solid plan and the talent to get it done, Gibbons might be closer to his goal than he thinks.
518dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert