There Jahmyr Gibbs sat, on stage at a table Wednesday in the Dalton High School theater, with three hats within arm's reach.
With the bright red Dalton Catamounts backdrop behind him, the even brighter theater lights shining on him and his family by his side, Gibbs was ready to reveal the answer to the pressing question: Where would the ultra-talented, four-star, All-American running back play college football?
A theater full of friends, classmates, coaches, teammates and media wanted to know. So did thousands of college football fans watching livestreams and furiously checking social media to hear his choice. Gibbs committed to Georgia Tech in May 2019, but did not sign in December during the first signing period. He opted to visit other schools during January, so there was intrigue.
To Gibbs' right, a blue Florida Gators hat. In the center, a purple Louisiana State Tigers hat. To his left, a white Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets hat.
After thanking God, his family and friends, Gibbs cut to the chase and reached to his left.
"I will further take my education and my athletics to Georgia Tech," Gibbs announced as the crowd cheered.
And just like that, months of high-stakes recruiting were over. There was no more doubt. Gibbs was a Yellow Jacket.
In 2019 for the second straight year, Gibbs was named the Daily Citizen-News Football Player of the Year after he racked up 2,554 yards rushing, 40 touchdowns rushing one more score on a 97-yard kickoff return during his senior season.
To show you just how quickly Gibbs' national profile soared, on Feb. 15, 2019, 247Sports.com rated Gibbs as the No. 1,010 player in the nation.
A huge season will make people take notice, nationwide.
HIs breakout season started on Aug. 24, 2019, during the Catamounts' 62-10 win over Ringgold. In only three quarters, Gibbs rushed for 420 yards and eight touchdowns on 23 carries. Gibbs finished the night with touchdown runs of 58, 55, 54, 5, 1, 29 and 1 yards. He had 270 yards rushing and four touchdowns by halftime.
Gibbs was flooded with awards. He was honored as a 2020 All-American and presented his All-American jersey during a ceremony at Dalton High. Gibbs was one of six finalists for the All-American Bowl Player of the Year award. Colleges paid attention as Gibbs garnered more than 30 scholarship offers to big-time schools, including Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State.
Friend and Dalton teammate John Ross was with Gibbs through much of the recruiting process. Ross, who will be a preferred walk-on at Georgia Tech this fall, played defensive end at Dalton and has developed a strong friendship with Gibbs.
"It's been a really good experience but it's also been stressful," Ross said. "It's kind of like if you were getting married and you had five different women always yelling at you 'You need to come to me,' so I'm glad he got through it and I think he's really excited about where he picked."
Ross said the two had a conversation Monday night about where Gibbs would ultimately end up. Then the next night, Gibbs told Ross he'd decided to attend Georgia Tech. With the possibility of Gibbs choosing somewhere other than Georgia Tech, Ross said he never pressured Gibbs into a decision.
"I was hoping, I didn't want to press him into anything but I'm so glad that we'll get to play together again, maybe room together and all that so we'll still be together," Ross said. "It was great to hear. I told him I always want to play with you, I always want you on my team if that's an option. I would have been just as happy to have gone down to games whenever I could to support him."
Another former teammate has been a sounding board for Gibbs. Ahmaad Tanner, who currently plays running back for Austin Peay University, drove from Clarksville, Tennessee, to Dalton for Wednesday's signing.
Gibbs was a freshman at Dalton during Tanner's senior season, and the two have remained close friends. Tanner said during their conversations and text message exchanges, talk usually veered from his upcoming college decision.
"Basically, I told him to pick wherever feels like home," Tanner said. "Just pick where everyone is involved, and they want to get you involved and it's like a family."
Tanner described Gibbs as "elusive, fast, strong, smart" and believes he will play early in his career at Georgia Tech.
In Georgia Tech, Gibbs is walking into a rebuilding job by second-year coach Geoff Collins. The Yellow Jackets finished 3-9 and 2-6 in the ACC, but many believe Collins has the program on the right track.
Georgia Tech running backs coach Tashard Choice was a key reason why Gibbs chose the Yellow Jackets, he said. Choice starred at Georgia Tech and played six seasons in the NFL for four teams.
"Just him overall," Gibbs said of Choice. "He has a great personality and he knows what he's doing. He's been there so he can teach me how to get there as well."
Gibbs is excited to get back to work, and described himself as a player by saying: "I'm a good teammate. I care about my team more than myself. And I'm hardworking."
After the television cameras left the theater and students were slowly herded back to class, Gibbs soaked in the moment and appeared relaxed. He posed for pictures with teammates, even playfully putting one in a headlock before leaving school for a celebration lunch.
His high school coach for the past four years, Matt Land, could tell Gibbs was relieved. But Land, who has known Gibbs since he was 6 years old, also said he is "insatiably excited for the next step."
"This is not his wheelhouse," Land said. "He does not pound his chest. He's not a guy that says put me out front. Give him a ball, give him grass, give him a coach, give him some guys to compete against, let's go. That's his thing."