It seems like timing has been kind to the high school football career of Compton running back Niles Hibbert. He came to Compton the year Calvin Bryant returned as head coach, he turned himself into a running back when there was an opening, and even got a senior season soundtrack from this favorite rapper Lil Wayne.
However, Hibbert will tell you that he’s just been a product of his environment.
“I feel like Compton has really prepared me for the real world,” he said. “It’s not always going to be peaches and cream. You’ve got to put in the work.”
The work has paid off this season as Hibbert has taken over as the featured back in the Compton backfield. The 5’9” 165-pound senior leads the team with 976 yards rushing (11.5 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns. Compton is averaging over 300 yards rushing per game this season.
“He represents everything that we want to have coming out of Compton,” Compton coach Calvin Bryant said of Hibbert. “He’s a devoted kid on and off the field. He’s done everything we ask, and more. When you turn your back, you know he’s still going to be doing the right thing.”
Hibbert was born in Inglewood where he started playing Pop Warner football at seven-years old, but it didn’t start well.
“I was what you’d call a five-play player in Pop Warner,” Hibbert said. “I was more chubby, and was a defensive end and guard. My dad forced me to stick with it, and after that I just learned to love the game.”
His dad, Michael Hibbert, moved Niles and his family to take a job at Compton High as a math teacher, which just happens to be his son’s favorite subject. He has a 3.6 GPA and wants to study engineering and computer science.
Timing was good again for Hibbert as he met new friends like Christian Swint while shedding his baby fat just before his freshmen year of football at Compton under Bryant.
“The coaches told me to go with defensive backs, and I had never played there before,” Hibbert said. “It was kind of rough. There was a lot of learning.”
Hibbert got some playing time on varsity as a sophomore, but never got frustrated.
“I still loved the game,” Hibbert said. “I just tried to stay positive.”
Bryant saw that dedication, plus Hibbert’s speed on the track and field team, and moved him to running back last year with Swint. Hibbert averaged nine yards per carry in his first year carrying the ball.
“It just came kind of naturally to run the ball,” Hibbert said. “The hardest part is reading and having vision while you run. I worked on it by watching film and knowing the blocking schemes for the lineman. I took the time and put in the work to know where to go.”
Hibbert said he couldn’t have transformed his football career without the guidance of Bryant.
“He has a program where if you put in the work you will have success and enjoy the fruits of your labor,” he said.
Hibbert wants to attended Cal Poly SLO where he can pursue his athletic career while studying engineering. First, he and his team have a chance to extend their season by beating Wilson tonight.
“The season has had some minor hiccups,” Hibbert said. “But we can still get to the ultimate goal in the playoffs.”