After three years of mostly waiting, Keenan Gibbs barely had to wait at all in the University of Toledo's first game.
Gibbs sacked New Hampshire quarterback Sean Goldrich on the Wildcats' second possession, the first sack of his career, and an early sign that — finally — Gibbs is at full health. The redshirt junior from Cincinnati tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the 2012 spring game, causing him to miss that entire season. Though he was cleared to play last season, he still didn't feel right.
“I wasn't 100 percent. I didn't feel like myself and didn't feel I was playing up to my best ability to help my team,” Gibbs said. “I felt like, basically, it wouldn't have been the best option for me to play last year because I wasn't fully healthy.”
Gibbs, listed as a second-team defensive end, pinned Goldrich in the backfield to force a third-and-long, and eventually a punt.
It felt like a long time coming for Gibbs, who went through the agonizing post-ACL-tear rehabilitation process.
“It's a really long rehab and a really long wait,” Gibbs said. “It's the point of the fact you still have to wait about six months until you can actually have contact. It was a pretty intense rehab, but in the long run, sitting and waiting was the best opportunity.”
Gibbs called his mother and grandmother after Toledo's 54-20 win to let them know the good news on two fronts: He had played well in the season opener, and for the first time since high school, Gibbs felt like himself during a live game.
“Of course it's everybody's dream to play Division I football. Fortunately it came for me,” Gibbs said. “It's truly a blessing that all the hard work finally started to pay off.”
TICKET UPDATE: Fewer than 3,000 tickets remain for the game Saturday. The school announced in a release Wednesday that anybody who plans to go to the game should plan on arriving an hour early.
STECKEL’S HOPES: Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel, a former UT assistant, said he hopes the noon kickoff Saturday works in Missuori’s favor: Steckel joked that he hopes the normally loud Glass Bowl crowd is too hungover come Saturday afternoon.