West Orange High wide receiver Jayden Gibson hopes to be the third generation in his family to play collegiate football.
A junior wide receiver on the West Orange High football team, Jayden Gibson has been tearing up opposing defenses all season long. Gibson, who has a handful of Division 1 offers at the moment, plans to follow in the footsteps of his father, uncle and grandpa and play collegiate football.
How did you get into playing football?
I’ve been playing football forever. My dad played at Florida, my grandpa played at FAMU, and my uncle played at Florida, so I’ve always played football. I started playing flag around the city, and I just grew from there, and I just loved it automatically. My love for the game has grown as I’ve gotten older and have played it more.
What is it about the game that has kept you in it for so long?
There’s a couple of things: One, I like to compete — I’m a competitor — and you can’t really compete in any other sport quite like football. On the field, there is no advantages — there is no black and white. And it’s something that when I was little, people would look at me and they’d say, “You look like a basketball player or track or something,” or, “You’re skinny.” People look at me and they see this or that, but at the end of the day, I’m out here doing my thing. … I’ve proven them wrong every day.”
What’s been the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since you first started playing?
I feel like now I’m obviously more mature — even more than I was last year. As I’ve been playing football, I’ve learned how to become more of a leader. On the field, I think I’ve become more physical as I’ve gotten older. When I played football on Pop Warner, I used to play a lot of defense, so I had to tackle, but I wasn’t really that physical. But now I’m a physical player — a physical receiver.
Is there a highlight moment for you at West Orange?
Either my first catch on JV — I remember that like it was yesterday — we were playing Windermere the first game of the JV season. Or last year, my first touchdown versus Lake Mary. In that game, I had 100-some yards on seven catches and my first touchdown to seal the game.
What’s your favorite part about playing receiver? The most challenging part?
I think my favorite part is I like to put points on the board, (and) I like to get first downs — that kind of thing. I like to know that I can put the team in position to score and make the big play. I like to be able to put my team up … or even when we’re down, make a play that can lift us up and get the momentum going. The hardest part about playing receiver is dealing with corners and safeties and defenses that have your number — defenses that have looked you up. If you’re really good at receiver, then you’re always going to have to go through extra stuff to get open.