MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When Shelton Gibson ran the 40 in 4.50 seconds at the NFL combine, his agent wondered about a clock discrepancy, one that ultimately might have been triggered by the West Virginia receiver’s premature hand motion at the start.
NFL scouts who saw Gibson run in Indianapolis, after watching him run past cornerbacks in college, didn’t seem too concerned.
“They said if anybody thinks that you run a 4.5, they’re crazy,” he said.
On Friday at the Mountaineers pro day, Gibson posted a 4.39 more in line with his expectations.
“A lot of the coaches knew I was fast,” he said. “The tape is real.”
More surprising than Gibson validating his burst was the revelation that he decided to enter the draft as an underclassmen without seeking an NFL evaluation last December.
After four years at West Virginia — the first of which he spent away from football as a academic partial qualifier — Gibson was eager to make his NFL jump, more influenced by self-confidence than the opinions of others.
“I don’t care about projections and I don’t care what round I go in, because it doesn’t matter. Once you get up there, it’s what you show in practice,” he said. “I know I compete at a high level and that’s what coaches want to see.”
After sitting out 2013, Gibson played sparingly as a redshirt freshman while making four catches. He joined the starting lineup in 2015 and caught 37 passes for 887 yards, before increasing his production to 43 catches for 951 last season. He scored 17 touchdowns over those final two years, many on deep routes where he torched man coverage.
He looked comfortable catching throws from his WVU quarterback Skyler Howard on Friday, while running some crossing routes he said he never ran in college.
“Ain’t nothing wrong with West Virginia’s system, but I was not running intermediate routes like that,” Gibson said. “Now I know I’ve got to run these routes and I’m just preparing myself.”
So sure of his speed and athleticism, Gibson said most of his training in California centered on football techniques and not preparing for these electronically-timed drills. He aims to show teams he’s more consistent than the sophomore who struggled with drops, more versatile than the WVU kid who primarily ran go routes.
“I’ve got so much to prove,” Gibson said. “I wasn’t training for the combine, and I wasn’t training for pro day. I’m training for the NFL.”