Shawn Gibbs | Fort Valley State University

Team: Fort Valley State University
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Black Mountain, North Carolina


The second campaign of the Shawn Gibbs era in ‘Th e Valley’ begins with great optimism. The Fort Valley State head football coach aims to build upon the solid opening season at the Wildcats helm.

Gibbs and the Wildcats posted an 8-2 record last fall for the program’s best season in over a decade. FVSU’s first year under Gibbs included victories over SIAC West champ Tuskegee in the Red Tails Classic and Albany State in the Fountain City Classic along with his top players, Emanuel Wilson and Kelvin Durham, earning the SIAC Player, Offensive, Newcomer and Freshman of the Years awards between the two.

Wilson, currently a rookie with the Green Bay Packers, became Gibbs’ latest 1,000-yard rusher with 1,370 yards on 209 carries (6.6 ypc) and 17 touchdowns in 10 games. Durham threw for 1,994 yards with 16 scoring strikes for his awards.

Coming to program in February of 2022, FVSU gave Gibbs the reins of his first program as a head coach. Gibbs has an extensive background in coaching that includes 19 seasons as both an assistant head coach and positions coach at the collegiate level. His coaching experience includes stints at North Carolina A&T University, North Carolina Central University, and Grambling State University.

Gibbs became the North Carolina A&T assistant head coach and running backs coach under legendary head coach Rod Broadway in 2011. His responsibilities included coordinating meetings, implementing game strategies, and recruiting players. During Gibbs’ tenure at N.C. A&T, every season, except one, a running back rushed for over 1,000 yards.

Under the tutelage of Gibbs, many N.C. A&T running backs have had successful careers. In 2011, Mike Mayhew was named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Former running back Tarik Cohen won the Conference Offensive Player of the Year award three times (2014-16) along with being named MEAC Freshman of the Year (2013) and earning All-American honors.

Cohen led the league in rushing all four of his seasons with over 1,000 yards each year. Cohen’s other accomplishments include being the MEAC and N.C. A&T all-time leading rusher (5,619), being named to numerous All-American teams, being a four-time First Team All-MEAC selection all while being one of the most nationally recognized players in the nation. Cohen also broke the Aggies single season rushing record with 1,588 yards.
In his first season under Gibbs, Cohen broke the Aggies freshman rushing record by becoming the first Aggies rookie to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season. Cohen also finished ninth for the Jerry Rice award given to the best rookie in the FCS.

By winning three-straight offensive player of the year awards, Cohen became the first player in MEAC history to accomplish the feat. He also finished his career by being named the first-ever Deacon Jones Award winner for best black college football player in the nation. He was also named Washington D.C. Pigskin Club player of the year followed by being drafted in the fourth round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

When Cohen needed to be replaced after the 2016 season, Gibbs prepared Marquell Cartwright for the job. Cartwright would rush for 2,149 and 21 touchdowns over his final two seasons (2017-18), earn two first-team All-MEAC honors and the 2017 Celebration Bowl offensive MVP award.  Between Mayhew, Cohen and Cartwright, the Aggies have had a back lead the MEAC in rushing in seven out the last eight years. In 2018, the Aggies had two running backs earn all-conference honors as Cartwright was a first-team selection and Jah-Maine Martin was a third-team honoree.

Before his time at A&T, Gibbs spent four seasons as Grambling’s running backs coach. Under Gibbs’ watch, the Tigers possessed one of the most successful running games in Division I-FCS. Gibbs inherited a young running back corps that included freshmen Frank Warren and Cornelius Walker. In their first year under Gibbs, Warren and Walker combined for 1,466 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Warren was named SWAC Freshman of the Year in 2007 as he finished with 901 yards. The running game continued to flourish under Gibbs in 2009. The Grambling rushing attack ascended to a No. 12 ranking nationally.

Gibbs’ stint at A&T marked his third stop with Broadway. He was also a running backs coach under Broadway at N.C. Central from 2003-06. During his four seasons there, he helped the Eagles put together one of the best offenses in Division II football. The Eagles won consecutive CIAA titles (2005-06). During the 2006 season, the Eagles led the CIAA in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense.

The Eagles’ running game was led by Greg Pruitt, Jr. Under Gibbs, Pruitt became the school’s all-time leading rusher. Pruitt led the Eagles in rushing three straight seasons including two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2004 and ‘05. Pruitt finished his career with more than 3,000 and signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

The relationship Gibbs has with the Eagles football program extends to him being a star running back for the Eagles (1993-97). He ranks among the all-time leading rushers in school history with 1,687 yards.

Over his career, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry. Gibbs tied the school record for longest rushing touchdown from scrimmage in 1996 when he went 89 yards against Fayetteville State. Gibbs led the Eagles in rushing during the 1996 and ‘97 seasons, and he ranks among the Eagles’ top career scoring leaders with 121 points. He had a career-best 10 touchdowns in 1996.

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