Shawn Gibbs is one of the most premier running back coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision. The evidence of this is seen the results N.C. A&T running backs have produced under Gibbs’ guidance.
Gibbs became the North Carolina A&T running backs coach under legendary head coach Rod Broadway in 2011 and worked with Broadway until Broadway’s retirement in 2017. In Gibbs’ time at N.C. A&T there has only been one season that a N.C. A&T back has not gone over 1,000 yards rushing.
In 2011, Mike Mayhew was named MEAC offensive player of the year. Tarik Cohen, who many Aggie fans would argue is the best player in N.C. A&T history, won conference offensive player of the year three times (2014-16) along with being named MEAC rookie of the year (2013) and garnering All-American honors many times over.
Cohen led the league in rushing and rushed for more than 1,000 yards all four seasons. Cohen’s other accomplishments include being the MEAC’s and N.C. A&T’s all-time leading rusher (5,619), being named to numerous All-American teams, being a four-time first-team All-MEAC selection and 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.
There have been other successes at running back for Gibbs since his arrival in Aggieland. Ricky Lewis had a career year in 2012, rushing for 437 yards and six touchdowns on 97 carries. Dominique Drake, Cohen and Lewis combined to score 19 rushing touchdowns in 2013.
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.