Trevis Gipson, Tulsa’s central football force, has been waiting to play Oklahoma State since his Golden Hurricane lost in Stillwater two years ago.
“I probably got about three defensive snaps. The majority of my plays were special teams,” Gipson said. “I feel like I missed out on making them feel where I really came from. This game, I’m gonna go in with a lot bigger chip on my shoulder and with more determination to prove who I am to them.”
Some of this is standard motivating procedure for TU players in an OSU- and OU-mad state. It’s no different for Gipson, who noted Tuesday he sees a lot more orange and crimson around this city than blue.
What’s unusual here is the depth of Gipson’s drive. This doesn’t just date back two years.
Jan. 30, 2015, just as he was about to sign with the only FBS program to offer him a scholarship, Gipson tweeted: NCAA colleges, If you are on Tulsa’s schedule, I WILL make a point that you made a mistake by not offering me when we play you.”
Four years later, Gipson is careful to point out he meant no disrespect to OSU or anyone else who missed him at Cedar Hill High School near Dallas.
“I only weighed 207 pounds as a defensive end,” he said. “I feel like a lot of college coaches didn’t believe that I could gain the weight, which I understand.”
He gets it looking back. He also doesn’t regret it. He shouldn’t regret it.
You take a two-star prospect built more like a cane than a Hurricane — TU teammate Chris Ivy: “I first met Trev on my recruiting visit here and I thought he was a basketball player, for sure” — of course, he’s going to fan what competitive flames he can.
Gipson saw what that heat did for his older brother, Thomas, who went from Cedar Hill to an honorable mention All-Big 12 Conference basketball career at Kansas State.
“My brother has always been determined,” Gipson said. “Once I realized his path, I wanted to not only match his intensity but surpass it.”
It seems to be happening.
Gipson had a sack and two more quarterback pressures in TU’s opener at Michigan State, then another sack at San Jose State last Saturday. His 4.5 tackles for lost yardage are tied for sixth in FBS.
“He has been outstanding,” TU coach Philip Montgomery said. “He is obviously our team leader, not just defensively but overall.”
That isn’t just due to production. Consider the Hurricane locker room after the 28-7 setback at Michigan State. Gipson sensed a vibe discouragingly similar to TU’s 3-9 2018 season.
“I spoke to the team and told them to keep their heads up, that one game doesn’t determine our whole season,” he said. “We can’t harp on the losses. We’ve got to continue to work.”
The idea is to turn 3-9 into a winning record and a bowl trip, and to beat a team like OSU along the way.
For that to happen Saturday at Chapman Stadium, TU’s most disruptive player must be a terror. Gipson must get after OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders like he harassed the two Spartans QBs the first two weeks.
If determination means anything, Gipson is already in the Cowboys’ backfield.
“Regardless of who they have on offense, what their guys on offense have done to opposing teams, they’re going to have to go through us at the end of the day,” Gipson asserted. “I feel like our defense brings a great chip, a great level of dominance to the game.”
Nobody brings a chip the size of Gipson’s. It has been growing for 4½ years.
Gipson was on the verge of his final TU camp one morning in July, when a visitor asked if OSU recruited him much.
“No, sir, they did not,” he answered, far from those two-star days as a fully-grown pass-rushing menace but unwavering in terms of motivation. “They messed up not doing that.”