Gibson goes to Steelers

Fred Gibson

ATHENS – Fred Gibson threw a draft party in his hometown of Waycross on Saturday, and everybody came.

But nobody called. The former Georgia wide receiver expected to be drafted in the first or second round of the NFL Draft and never thought he'd fall past the third. However, when the third round ended at 11 p.m. Saturday, five Bulldogs had been selected and Gibson wasn't one of them.

"It was real tough," Gibson told The Telegraph. "I was a little down yesterday of course, biggest day of my life and seeing my teammates go by. It was tough. It was a big shock to me."

Fred Gibson wasn't able to get over his disappointment until Sunday afternoon, when he was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 30th pick of the fourth round (No. 131 overall).

"Things happen for a reason, nobody knows why it happened," Gibson said. "Life is full of surprises I'm just glad I got drafted."

The Steelers were happy to get Gibson with their fourth pick of the draft, wide receivers coach Bruce Arians said. Seventeen wide receivers were picked ahead of Gibson, who caught 165 passes for 2,926 yards and 21 touchdowns at Georgia.

"This guy has a big upside," Arians told the team's Web site. "He has height, jumping ability and the speed to go along. We think this is an excellent pick at this point."

The depth of this year's wide receiver class is one reason Gibson was around so long, Arians said.

"It's like judging a beauty contest," he said. "There are so many good players at this position this year. There was a lot of speed and there were some tall guys and there were about four or five guys that some people liked and some people did not. You could get them anywhere from the third round to the sixth round, depending on who you talk to."

The drop may end up being good for Gibson since he seems to have found a good home with the Steelers, who are looking to replace departed free agent Plaxico Burress. Gibson is a little shorter than the 6-foot-6 Burress but both are deep threat receivers.

"It's the perfect fit for me," Gibson said. "Plaxico went to the (New York) Giants, and they never got another receiver."

Gibson is actually faster than Burress, Arians said.

"He is the same style player at outside receiver," the receivers coach said. "He has to give us the height that we lost, hopefully and make plays in the red zone with his height and jumping ability. Other than that, you have to see the production because Plaxico was a productive player."

Gibson also will be able to learn from All-Pro and former Georgia receiver Hines Ward, who offered Gibson some sage advice before draft ever started.

"He told me it doesn't matter how quick you go it's what you do when you get there," Gibson said. "I'm sure Hines will be a big mentor to me and show me the ropes. I'm just glad to got to Pittsburgh and be a part of a great team with a great tradition."

Many of the people who left Gibson's party disappointment Saturday night either called or stopped by his house on Sunday to say congratulations, he said.

"I've got a whole lot of fan support here," he said. "Everybody is supporting me. Everybody was praying for me and just trying to keep me up."

Gibson said he and his agent, Doug Hendricks of Octagon, still don't know why he dropped so far in the draft. Entering the draft, there were questions about his consistency catching the ball and his character, according to some draft analysts.

"(Hendricks) didn't know. He was stunned," Gibson said. "This draft stuff is crazy. You just never know."

Gibson does know one thing, though.

"I'm with Pittsburgh and once I get there, I'll just have to make people pay," he said. "Believe me, I've got the biggest chip on my shoulder in the world. I'm telling you, you don't understand. You don't even understand."

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