Carroll County’s Josh Gibbs (73) in action for the Panthers. (Courier file photo)
Carroll County’s Josh Gibbs (73) in action for the Panthers. (Courier file photo)
Carroll County's 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman Josh Gibbs has inked his name on a national letter of intent to play football for the Eastern Kentucky Colonels this fall.

Gibbs headed a list of six Carroll County senior athletes who announced their college choices on Friday in a ceremony at the school library.

Dakota Corbin will play basketball for Union, Michael Burns will run track and field and cross country at Transylvania, Michael Hall will play soccer at University of the Cumberlands, Kayla Williamson will play softball at Georgetown (Ky.) and Joe Gemmer will attended Union and play tennis.

A Carrollton resident since moving there in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's devastation in Mississippi in 2005, Gibbs came up through the county's little league, middle school and freshman football programs before competing with the varsity from his sophomore year on.

"When I left Mississippi, I was a running back," Gibbs said, noting that he just kept growing and growing. "Since I've been here, I've been a lineman."

And what a lineman Gibbs has been in high school. During his sophomore season - playing defense only - Gibbs recorded 22 assisted tackles, 49 solo tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback sacks in what was quite a coming out party.

As a junior in 2012 - Gibbs' first year playing both ways - he anchored an offensive line that led the state's Class 2A in rushing with 3,686 yards and his teammate, Tyshawn Embs, was second overall in the state with 2,507 yards.

Defensively, Gibbs recorded another 33 assisted tackles, 21 solo tackles, 12 tackles for loss, four quarterback sacks and a forced fumble.

Panthers' assistant coach J.P. Dale remembers Gibbs' impact well.

"We were playing at Lewis County and they had the ball first and goal on the 5-yard line. Josh had this look in his eye," Dale recalled. "He went on to make all four stops and forced a fumble on fourth down, sending the game into overtime. A game we ended up winning, 33-27.

"That had to be one of the best games I've ever been a part of," Dale added.

Gibbs considers that game among his most fond memories in high school as well.

"I'm really proud of how we won that game," the quiet giant noted.

Gibbs continued his onslaught as a senior with 12 assisted tackles, 30 solo tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three quarterback sacks and three forced fumbles.

Along the way, Gibbs garnered a long list of honors from first team all-district 2011-2013, to all-state offensive and defensive lineman in 2012. He was Carroll County's outstanding defensive lineman for all three years on varsity and the team's most outstanding offensive player as a senior.

In addition to Eastern , an NCAA Division I college playing in Ohio Valley Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision, other schools showing interest in Gibbs included Morehead State, Indianapolis, Kentucky Christian and Kentucky Wesleyan.

Carroll head coach Mike Weedman said Gibbs will be a "good fit" for the Colonels.

"He's been there visiting the past four years and caught their eyes at a very young age," Weedman said,

Gibbs joins Keith Welch (Morehead State, 2008) as Weedman's only two players at Carroll County to sign with a Division I college and followed a route carved by former Panther Pat Smith to EKU back in the late 70s and early 80s when the Colonels won two national championships and were runners-up twice in a four-year span.

Here's a breakdown of the other Carroll athletes who committed to colleges on Friday:

Dakota Corbin, a forward on the boys basketball team, was Carroll County's captain, leading rebounder, leading shot-blocker and had the highest field goal percentage during the 2013-14 season. He averaged 11.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, shot 50 percent from the field and was 31 percent on 3-pointers.

He'll now continue that at Union College.

"I really enjoyed coaching Dakota," said Carroll head coach Carroll Yager, who himself played at Union after graduating from Carroll County. "He has great work ethic and developed into an outstanding leader. He's interested in the success of the team and is a great team player. I look forward to seeing him at the next level. I wish Dakota a lot of luck."

Michael Hall, the Panthers' high-scoring striker who recorded 26 goals and 13 assists during his senior year - both school records - after scoring 21 goals and six assists as a junior.

Hall, a team captain who led the Panthers to back-to-back District 31 championships and a 29-17-1 record over his final two seasons, will play for University of the Cumberlands.

Kayla Williamson, the second baseman for the Lady Panthers softball team, has been one of the squad's offensive and defensive sparkplugs over the past few seasons.

"I couldn't have made it this far without the help of my coaches and teammates," Williams said. "The coaching staff never gave up on me. It's easy to play when I have my best friends by my side."

Michael Burns, a distance runner with Carroll's cross country program and sprinter with the track team where he was a leader on both squads.

Burns qualified for the Class 2A State Finals in the 400-meter dash as a junior and finished 10th overall while winning his heat and now he'll compete in both sports at Transylvania.

Joe Gemmer, a senior with the boys tennis team, is now 7-2 on the season with wins over Walton-Verona, Trimble County and Gallatin County.

"He really worked hard during the summer," said Gemmer's coach Juan Fernandez. "Joe has been keeping in touch with (Union's coach) and together, they're implementing new things into his game for next year. Joe has a big desire to further his tennis skills."