Interview with Former Vandy Safety Justin Giboney

Why did you decide to come to Vanderbilt?

Very few schools can off er a student-athlete what Vanderbilt does. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go to an elite academic institution and play in an elite football conference. I’d always wanted to play in the SEC and Vanderbilt also gave me an opportunity to pursue my academic aspirations. Not to mention, I believe Vandy was ranked #2 in the nation in defense 2 years before I got there. That was impressive.

What are you most proud of from your time at Vandy?

I’m most proud of being named the 2002 Most Valuable Defensive Back. Vanderbilt has always been strong at that position so to be recognized in that manner was very special.

Do you keep in touch with any of your former teammates?

I love the guys I played with and try to keep up with as many of them as possible. I talk to several former players on a regular basis, including Rushen Jones, Mike Martin, Moses Osemegie, Kelechi Ohanaja, Libnir Telusca, Lew Thomas, Javon Haye, Marcus Buggs and a few more.

Who was the hardest guy to tackle? Cadillac Williams without a doubt. It was hard enough catching up to the guy and when you did you had to deal with an array of moves. Best college runningback I played against.

Where was the toughest place to play?

The Swamp. Those fans are brutal, but I always enjoyed playing in that environment.

What do you think was the biggest difference between Coach Widenhofer and Coach Johnson?

Well, Woody and Johnson are opposites in several respects, but I guess the biggest difference would be that Woody was more of a “players’ coach”. Coming from the NFL I think his experiences were different so he came with a different perspective and approach.

Your freshman year what do you remember about that huge comeback against Northern Ilinois? Jimmy Williams had that huge punt return for a touchdown with a minute to go to win the game. Aaron McWhorter told me that was the best game he was ever involved in.

I remember thinking that we needed something big to happen and seeing Jimmy deliver. Jimmy was an awesome player and that was a nice comeback.

The next week was the huge upset in overtime in Oxford over Ole Miss and Deuce McAllister. What sticks out from that game?

Great game. I was second string Free Safety at the time and mostly contributing on special teams. Much to my surprise, Woody decided to put me in the game in overtime. That was a huge rush. I was a little nervous, but being thrown in the fire like that as a freshman helped me develop into a better player. That’s one of my fondest memories.

How disappointing was it to get hurt midway through that season and miss playing in some of those big games with bowl implications?

The pain of being out for the season was worse than the pain from my broken leg. I had just begun to bond with my new teammates and gain their respect, so having to watch from the sidelines was devastating. However, I think that adversity gave me a new perspective. After that I appreciated the game more and vowed to take advantage of every moment I had on the field.

When you saw the fake punt against Georgia what did you think? It seemed they had all the momentum already. If it had worked he would have been called a genius but well you know how it turned out…

I was familiar with the formation we were in whenever we ran a fake, so when I saw that formation I couldn’t believe my eyes. It didn’t work out, but that’s how the game goes. You have to take chances every now and then. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose…it’s the nature of the beast.

What do you remember about the UT game at Adelphia Coliseum your sophmore year? It seems like had there been 5 more minutes in the game we would’ve pulled it out. MJ Garrett had a big game and Greg Zolman looked like John Elway in the 4th quarter.

I’ve actually tried to erase that game from my memory (laugh). That wasn’t one of my better games. To this day I replay several of my mistakes in my head. That’s one of those games that you wish you could get back. MJ and Zolman were awesome and the defense played their hearts out.

Wasn’t there a lot of pushing and shoving after that game was over?

Oh yeah. It’s always intense when we play UT. When you play your heart out on the field sometimes those emotions are hard to hold back after the game.

What was your thoughts going into the MTSU game to start the season your junior year?

Painful. I think we took the game lightly and they took advantage of that. They had some very good players on that team and we weren’t at our best.

What were your thoughts after the game?

To be honest, I was embarrassed. That’s a game we should’ve won and it was a terrible way to start the season.

The next week was the home game with Alabama. The defense seemed to play really inspired that day. We kept them out of the end zone but missed a field goal with a minute to go that would’ve force overtime. What did you think as you watched Folino’s field goal come up short?

“Oh please…not again”. Vandy finds itself in that situation too often.

You had a huge game against Duke that year. You had two interceptions. One was in the end zone that would’ve cut our lead to 7 late in the game.

Yeah that was a good game for me. I don’t think it should have been that close, but we got the W and that’s what counts.

We had a pretty big game against Ole Miss that was postponed until December due to 9-11. We played great D against Alabama the week before and I think we could’ve beaten them had we played them earlier in the season. What are your thoughts on the situation?

We definitely could have beaten them, but we should have done it when we had the opportunity. Early in the season or late in the season we should’ve won that game and we didn’t.

I remember watching you in the Florida game at home your Senior year. It seems like you were in almost every tackle. The defense had a lot of success shutting down Rex Grossman. What sticks out from that game?

That game very personal game for the DBs. The year before we had given up an ungodly amount of yards to that team so we got together and decided that we were going to take it to the next level. It was also Senior day so all the emotions from that probably played a part too.

Thanks again, is there anything else you’d like to say to the fans?

Support those Vandy players. They work are committed to taking this program to the next level. Go Dores!