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Torrance Gibson needs Ohio State more than OSU needs him

Photo: Gary Housteau, 247Sports

Whatever Ohio State wide receiver Torrance Gibson did, it was severe enough to get him suspended not just from the team, but from the university for the fall semester.

Officially, the Buckeyes are saying that Gibson has been suspended for violating the school’s student code of conduct. It’s a very vague statement — likely on purpose — but it does leave a ton of wiggle room for the imagination. He didn’t get suspended from school for a semester for chewing gum in class. It also doesn’t appear to be a legal issue, though.

Here’s the official statement, via Dave Biddle of 247Sports:

“Ohio State redshirt freshman wide receiver Torrance Gibson has been suspended from The Ohio State University for the 2016 fall semester for a violation of the University’s student code of conduct.”

For what it’s worth, Meyer did say that he disagrees with the suspension, so this was obviously a university decision and not a team one.

Somewhere between chewing gum and legal troubles — an ocean of possibilities — Gibson found himself on the wrong side of the Ohio State code of conduct. While it’s a blemish on what has otherwise been a very good offseason for the Buckeyes as they try to return to the College Football Playoff, this is the type of situation Urban Meyer is built to survive.

The fact of the matter is that Gibson needs OSU much more than OSU needs Gibson — the Buckeyes’ recruiting and depth are that good. That’s a sad state of affairs for a player who entered the college ranks with a ton of potential.

Gibson, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida (American Heritage), is a former four-star recruit, ranked the No. 6 athlete in the 2015 class and No. 75 overall, according to the 247Sports Composite. He was a U.S. Army All-American who committed to Ohio State over 19 other offers, with Miami, LSU, Auburn and Tennessee all appearing to be his other top options.

Gibson was a big commitment for OSU. He was part of a 2015 class that ranked No. 7 nationally. He was OSU’s fourth-highest-ranked signee, just behind Justin Hilliard, Jerome Baker and Michael Weber. He made the transition from quarterback to wide receiver upon coming to OSU and took a redshirt season in 2015.

He showed ample potential in Ohio State’s 2016 spring game, displaying the speed and elusiveness to make defenders miss.

He’s the type of player OSU could have used in jet situations and especially on screens. He’s also talented enough as a wide receiver to go downfield and get the ball in traffic. In Meyer’s offensive system, he could have been used in a lot of ways. It’s no wonder that Meyer doesn’t agree with the university’s call.

Still, whether or not Meyer approves of the suspension, it doesn’t change the fact that the player will suffer the far greater impact than the team in this scenario.

Yes, Gibson is extremely talented, but he’s been dealing with hamstring issues this summer and`didn’t even seem likely to crack OSU’s wideout rotation — at least initially.

“Torrance Gibson’s had a hamstring. He missed about 10 practices and he just went (Monday) for the first time in about two weeks. So, it’s been a tough go for him,” Meyer told Biddle on August 23.

Noah Brown, Dontre Wilson, Curtis Samuel, Parris Campbell, Terry McLaurin, Austin Mack and K.J. Hill were all mentioned before Gibson by Meyer, and this was before the suspension. Also keep in mind that OSU has recruited the wide receiver position well. The 2016 class also featured four-star wideout Binjimen Victor along with Mack. Recently OSU landed two five-star 2017 wideouts, Trevon Grimes and Tyjon Lindsey.

OSU is going to be just fine at wide receiver despite the loss of Gibson, and that’s factoring in both the present and the future.

Unfortunately, Gibson’s the one being left in the dark.

He’ll first have to determine whether or not he wants to stick with Ohio State — such a scenario involves him being let back in the school, but that’s another story. The smart move is staying with a national championship-level program and coach who obviously still wants him, but that’s his choice to make.

If he does decide to leave OSU, he’ll need to go the JUCO or transfer routes. Those paths work out for many, but they’re far from the realistic path to superstardom he had — past tense — at Ohio State.

Ultimately it’s the name on the front of the jersey — Ohio State — that wins out in this case. The name on the back of the jersey — Gibson — still has plenty of potential, and a redemption story is more than possible in today’s college football climate.

It’s a long road back to the top of the mountain, though … likely because of something that could have been avoided.

Torrance Gibson needs Ohio State more than OSU needs him

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