Derrick Gibson knew even during his five-year NFL career with the Oakland Raiders that his future would be in coaching. In the offseason, Gibson began working out with high school players in his hometown, Miami, and he eventually was helping out as the defensive backs coach at Miami Central under head coach Telly Lockette.
Gibson gained experience as a defensive backs coach and defensive coordinator before moving on to Miami Killian as head coach. A member of the 1999 national championship team at Florida State, Gibson is set to begin his second season at Killian in 2020.
In July, theOsceola.com plans to catch up with Seminoles now on the sideline as coaches. First up is Gibson, 41, who has coached at the high school level for the last decade and he also teaches social studies at Killian. He talked with the Osceola about his transition to coaching, why he opted to go into the profession and his coaching influences.
This was a plan for you, your transition from the NFL. Did you feel like you had something you wanted to pass on to players or be a father figure?
I always wanted to be a mentor. My goal in life is to help kids live the dream that I did, play major college football and play in the NFL. I know all of the kids won’t do that. But just help them try to achieve their dreams and aspirations.
What is the most gratifying thing about being a coach?
Just seeing the kids prosper, seeing how you can change kids’ lives. One of the kids I coached, (cornerback) Deatrick Nichols, he just signed with the New Orleans Saints. When I first got him he was a little chubby kid. He trimmed down. Lost weight. He got a full ride to South Florida. Just a guy like that. He texts all the time, ‘Coach, how are you doing?’ Bonds like that. You can’t put a price tag on that. The way I changed that kid’s life, that’s the glory of coaching.
What impact did coach Mickey Andrews have on you and do you still use some of the coaching methods that he taught?
You have to have tough skin coaching defensive back but I had a coach that basically just laid it out day in, day out. He made me believe myself. He pushed me to the limit. I try to coach my guys the same way. Mickey is one of a kind, man. Mickey was the best motivator. He breaks you down but he also picks you up. I use some of his coaching techniques, a lot of them. Being Mickey, he made me the player that I was.
What impact did FSU coaches have on your life?
It’s the camaraderie with the guys that I had at Florida State. We communicate. It’s a family bond that we create. Coach Mickey Andrews, coach Chuck Amato, they had an impact on my life on and off the field. Even after Florida State. It has been like a family.
What do you want players to say about you 20 years from now?
I’m always there for my players. I’m a great motivator. I’m a father figure. I can be a big brother.
What has changed about football?
Derrick Gibson couldn’t play in today’s college. I was a physical guy. You have to learn how to tackle all over again. You can’t go helmet to helmet. I really had to learn the game, how to tackle, how to bring guys down. For me it would be totally different.
How many targeting calls would you have had?
I probably couldn’t play. I’m just being honest with you. I probably couldn’t play.
Workouts in Miami haven’t started yet. Are you keeping up with players on Zoom? What are you telling them about topics like COVID-19 and racial inequality?
We do Zoom, FaceTime, all of that with the guys. The first thing I tell my kids is just try to keep faith. Our health is more important than anything. I couldn’t live if one of my players gets COVID and goes home and gives it to his parents. I couldn’t see living with that on my hands. When we get the green light, we’ll go. … At the end of the day, I tell the guys, you have to work out on your own.
This story originally appeared on theOsceola.com.
SEMINOLES ON THE SIDELINES