Like everything else in our media driven society, Twitter can be an amazing way for athletes to share their lives with fans, bringing that relationship closer than ever before.
But it can also be used in a mean and hurtful manner, as Cleveland Heights wide receiver Shelton Gibson experienced recently. The West Virginia commit has been the subject of ridicule and derisive comments from a segment of fans not happy with his choice of where to play college football.
"I just want to get my story out there, because I want the truth out there for everyone to read," Gibson stated. "I have a lot of people saying I'm too dumb to play college football, and that Ohio State dropped me because I will never qualify academically. Those things really hurt me, and I never should have argued back with people on Twitter, because I have to be more of a man and learn to ignore people."
"At the same time, I did want to let everyone know the truth about where things stand for me," he added. "I have switched schools a few times, but I am on target to qualify, and right now I am qualified through the NCAA sliding scale. I've been working very hard to get to this point, so it hurts to have people question my intelligence. When I first started getting offers, every school checked out my transcript and everything has always been fine."
Gibson was expected to commit to Ohio State or Auburn last summer, but that time frame passed without a decision being made.
"Everyone thought it was about grades, but that wasn't it at all," he explained. "It was just too early to make my choice, and I got caught up in wanting to announce on my mom's birthday in June, but I wasn't sure of my choice, so I couldn't do it. It had nothing to do with grades then, and my choice today had nothing to do with grades. I have been on official visits to Ohio State, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, and they are all great schools, and I love each one for giving me an opportunity."
"The problem came about when I committed to one school, and some people got all mad I didn't pick their school and they came at me on Twitter and on the internet," he continued. "Again, I need to say I am above the requirements needed by the NCAA sliding scale, but if I mess up the next two grading periods I could fall below. I do not plan on letting that happen, and if it does happen then it's on me. All I need to do to be fully qualified is to maintain where I'm at, but I plan on improving where I'm at even more."
As for his interaction with a small segment of fans on Twitter, Gibson has a message for his supporters and detractors.
"I still talk to coaches from all four schools, and none of them have dropped me, including Ohio State," Gibson stressed. "I talked with them (Ohio State) last week and they said they do not know where the story is coming from that they dropped me, because they told me they didn't at all."
"The bottom line for me is that I love all four schools, and know I could be happy at all of them, but West Virginia is the right place for me," he noted. "For the Ohio State fans, there was never anything bad about their school at all. I just felt real comfortable with West Virginia. I'm an Ohio boy, and I will always be a Buckeye and root for Ohio State. I wish they could support me, like I will support their team, and maybe that can happen in time. I apologize for anything I've said on Twitter, and I forgive everyone for the things they said about me."
"I love Ohio State, just like they do," he said in closing. "All along, no matter what school I would have picked, I was still going to root for the state I'm from and that's Ohio State. It's just best for me to get away from home and grow into a man. I hope people understand."
Gibson, 6-foot, 185-pounds, is currently listed as a four-star prospect and one of the top recruits in the Midwest.