Name: Kareem Gibson
Hometown: Johnstown, PA
School: Greater Johnstown
24/7: 84, three stars; #91 CB, PA #24
ESPN: 73, three stars; #92 CB, PA #36, East #189
Rivals: 5.3, two stars
Scout: three stars; #122 CB
Other offers: West Virginia, Pitt, Temple, Toledo, Akron
At first blush, Kareem Gibson looks like one of the most averagely average prospects UVA has had in a while. I don't mean that in an entirely negative way - the idea here is that Gibson is a cornerback of average size and average athleticism (for a D-I prospect, not for a high school player), with a basic set of regional offers, and three-star ratings. (Except Rivals, which plunks him rather inexplicably low; 5.3 isn't even the highest two-star rating they have.)
The interesting thing to me is that Gibson is the sort of two-way athlete that Mike London has historically been unable to resist. Loading up on cornerbacks has been a theme of my bellyaching for a while now, and yet this very large class only has the one dedicated cornerback - Gibson. (There's also Myles Robinson and Juan Thornhill, but they seem likely headed to other positions of reasonable need.) The number of cornerbacks that London offered and then actually pursued in earnest is relatively small.
Gibson's history is interesting. Committing to UVA over more local offers like Pitt and WVU (and a grayshirt one from Penn State), none of which are more than two hours from Johnstown, seems like a bit of a geographical surprise. But Gibson is originally a Maryland native who moved to Johnstown for family reasons, so it's actually a move closer to a comfort zone, in a sense. He also played his whole junior year on a high ankle sprain and roughed-up hamstring, causing a lot of people to go "hm, not impressed" and then "oh."
Further digging into his history reveals some pretty solid camp performances... at Rivals camps, which makes his low rating there all the more puzzling. At their camp in Richmond he was rated more highly than four-star OL Matthew Burrell, and a few days later in Pittsburgh he outperformed four-star Michigan State DB commit Montae Nicholson. Both of these were in April 2013, before the injuries.
Physically, Gibson's pretty skinny, which doesn't help his ratings. Scouting reports on him are a bit lukewarm on his strength - "acceptable" is the word ESPN uses - but that's probably a plus given Gibson's total lack of bulk. Actually put some muscle on him and the results should be interesting. Especially as Gibson is generally considered a pretty fearless hitter. A paywalled guru post on 24/7 offered unsolicited praise along those lines.
Gibson isn't guaranteed to redshirt, because he's the kind of prospect that London sometimes drives fans crazy by using on special teams as a freshman. He'd make a pretty fair member of a coverage team. If he does redshirt, he'll emerge in 2016 with four cornerbacks ahead of him in years, three of whom are entirely unknown quantities at this point. That actually means a lot of opportunity; the coaches have put five different CB's out there at various times because nickel defense, six if you count garbage time, and being the fourth-most senior cornerback should mean playing time by his second year. All he'd have to do is leapfrog one of them and he'll basically be a starter, assuming the nickel defense continues to function as a base package.