Junior wide receiver Nate Gibbons can do a little bit of everything on the football field. He can grab the great catch, run past defenders or get a fundamental block. This season it is his kick returning that has made football teams, not only in the Liberty League, but around the country, take notice.His backfield mate on kickoffs, junior defensive back Michael Dermody, knows just how dangerous Gibbons is with the ball in his hands. “Nate’s returns always have a chance to become big plays,” Dermody said. “He finds holes and, next thing you know, he’s in the open field. But then, when there aren’t any holes, he seems to make nothing into a huge play.” Big plays don’t give many of Gibbons’s returns justice.While most kickoff returners go a whole career without a return for a touchdown, Gibbons returned two for scores in a single game earlier this season against Union College.Anyone who thinks that game was just a fluke need only look to the 90-yard return Gibbons had this weekend versus the United Merchant Marine Academy.The Divison III football scene has taken notice as Gibbons has been named to D3Football.com’s Team of the Week as a returner and Liberty League Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance at Union.To Gibbons, the notoriety is nice, but could be just as dangerous as his returns.”It’s an honor to be given such a notable reputation,” Gibbons said. “Still, I know that I must not be complacent.” Gibbons, who has amassed nearly 500 yards on his returns this season with an average of 33 yards per return, is also quick to note his success is not entirely his own.”I would definitely attribute our suceess on special teams primarily to the coaches,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have the privilege of returning kicks behind a very physical, very relentless group of players, all of whom have contributed immensely to our success.” Even with the hype Gibbons receives, the special teams unit needs to continue to progress, especially with a shot at the playoffs on the line in the season’s latter weeks.”I know we’ll work very hard to prepare, and hopefully our special teams will be able to produce results that are similar, if not better than those we’ve produced in the past few games,” Gibbons said.With the play of a team’s special teams often deciding the outcome of the game, it is good to know that UR has an ace up its sleeve. Gibbons’ next opportunity to return kicks will be against the Worcester Polytechnic Institute.Allard can be reached at email@example.com.
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