BY BRADEN HOLECEK
PHOTO BY FHSU ATHLETICS — RYAN PRICKETT
Fort Hays State’s own Doyin Jibowu has continued to excel and make others proud.
For the first time in 19 years, the XFL decided to once again give football players an opportunity on the gridiron, and former FHSU football standout Doyin Jibowu took advantage of the chance that was given to him.
It was announced on Oct.16, 2019, that he was selected in the XFL Draft by the Dallas Renegades. His early reaction was filled with determination, rather than celebration.
“When I was selected, I didn’t do much celebrating just because I knew there was still work to be done,” Jibowu said. “When you go through the process, you realize that the selection is only a small part of the overall process.”
The destination held a good sense of importance for him, as Texas is a familiar place for Jibowu.
“I was extremely excited,” he said. “I’ve always been a fan of Texas and have a lot of connections there.”
Early reaction to the return of the XFL was generally positive. Viewership was encouraging to the league. But, more importantly, it gave players like Jibowu an opportunity to showcase their talents on a bright, shiny new stage.
“I’ve had a tremendous experience in the XFL so far,” Jibowu said. “From the first-class staff to the first-class teammates. It is certainly an experience that I will cherish when the time comes to move on.”
There was hope the new XFL would provide more chances at professional football’s highest level, the NFL. Furthermore, the feeling was mutual for the former Tiger defensive back.
“A fast-paced game that is competitive gives each player an opportunity to showcase their talents, while developing abilities some might lack in the process,” Jibowu said. “The XFL is a great opportunity for those looking to take the next step.”
During the XFL season, the new rules were heavily discussed. Will the newer concepts make their way to the NFL level? That remains to be seen. However, the new rules made no difference in the end to Jibowu.
“Personally, I think they were easy to grasp. At the end of the day, regardless of the adjustments, football is football, tackling on one end and ball security on the other,” Jibowu said. “With that said, I do believe the new rules add another dimension to the game that promote safety without slowing the game down.”
In addition to the rules and new concepts, the XFL brought excitement with its coaching hires. Many individuals who held a long-standing pedigree at multiple levels of the game brought a perfect mix with these newly formed squads.
With former Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops now teaching Jibowu the way in Dallas, his knowledge grew tremendously.
“As much as I hate to say it, I wasn’t aware of who Coach Stoops was prior to being selected by the team,” Jibowu said. “After getting to know him and being coached by him, I see exactly where his success as a head coach comes from.”
Moreover, Jibowu talked about the way in which Stoops strived to teach him and his teammates.
“His attention to detail and ability to teach every aspect of the game are extremely unique,” Jibowu said about Stoops. “He also takes pride in knowing every individual on the team at a personal level, something that is sometimes overlooked in professional sports.”
More importantly, and a key thing to keep in mind, here is Stoops’ No. 1 goal when teaching his players.
“I would say playing with passion and intensity, as well as, a fine attention to detail,” Jibowu said. “Simple things like that often separate winners and losers.”
Dallas was able to amass a 2-3 record at the midway point of the spring season. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the season was cut short.
The league announced in a statement on its Twitter page that the players would still be paid their base pay and benefits for the 2020 regular season.
XFL filed for bankruptcy on April 13. Former league commissioner Oliver Luck has filed a lawsuit against league owner Vince McMahon for wrongful termination, according to ESPN.
On the bright side, players like Jordan Ta’amu, PJ Walker and others have signed with NFL teams. There is hope for Jibowu, too. Regardless, he is thankful for his time in college football.
With his career at Fort Hays State in mind, Jibowu looked back on how his time in a Tiger uniform helped prepare him for the XFL stage.
“I believe we had a remarkable coaching staff in Hays. The football program prepared me to be a pro from Day 1,” Jibowu said. “Whether it was taking care of my body and nutrition, or preparation for the opponents we would face. Accountability is something that every pro should have, and Hays did a wonderful job instilling that in its athletes.”
Moving on to players at FHSU now and others from Division II schools, Jibowu offered some words of wisdom.
“My advice would be not to underestimate your abilities,” he said. “We are all capable of doing things that are beyond our imagination. Sometimes all we need is someone who sees things in us that we don’t see in ourselves.”