UCF National Signing Day: Kyle Gibson
At first glance, there were few standouts amongst the 17-player National Signing Day class for the University of Central Florida. However, four-star recruit or not, there are a handful of newcomers that will have the opportunity to gain playing time and possibly even start their first season wearing the Black & Gold.
Over the next few weeks, we will outline the haul that UCF added.
Arguably the second-best signing for George O’Leary’s staff came when four-star defensive back recruit Kyle Gibson switched his commitment from Vanderbilt to sign with the Knights.
Playing for UCF assistant Kirk Callahan’s father Sean at Armwood, Gibson credited the connection for his choice. The younger Callahan is the Knights' defensive backs coach.
Heralded for his size (6-foot and 170 pounds) and ball skills, Gibson will compete for playing time immediately, possibly taking the spot of graduating nickel back Sean Maag or supplanting cornerback Jordan Ozerities, who made several key plays over the course of the season. He played safety at Armwood, but with Gibson's frame and speed, all signs point to a switch to corner at UCF.
As the 22nd-ranked safety in the nation, according to 247Sports.com, Gibson was pursued by many programs, including Boston College, Michigan State, Florida State, Wisconsin and Miami. He committed to Vanderbilt in January 2013, before then-Commodores coach James Franklin left Vandy to take the head job at Penn State.
Prior to choosing the Commodores, he already had narrowed down his choices to UCF and Vandy. It wasn’t an easy decision, but Gibson de-committed from Vanderbilt after contacting the old and new coaching staffs.
There was a major effort by O’Leary’s staff to improve both the secondary and defensive lines, the weakest spots for UCF last year. Ozerities made some clutch plays for the BCS-bound Knights in 2013, but many close to the program believed that more consistency only would help improve the defense.
Ozerities, who started opposite freshman All-American Jacoby Glenn, was an All-Conference USA freshman himself two years ago, but an injury as a sophomore set him back. He earned back the starting spot as a redshirt junior and racked up 59 tackles, one interception and one sack over the course of the season.
While he is fast, he does not have the same kind of physicality and big-play potential that Gibson brings to the table while matching up with some of the major conference wide receivers. Glenn (6-foot, 176 pounds) and the incoming freshman have similar frames and skill sets.
The Knights lack no depth in the defensive backfield. Besides Gibson, Glenn and Ozerities, UCF recruited twins Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin, both three-star recruits out of Lakewood High in St. Petersburg. While his brother didn’t see the field in his first year, Shaquill made his first and only career start against Temple.
Sean Beckton Jr., the son of UCF Hall of Fame wide receiver and current wide receivers coach, Sean Beckton, also is still on the roster heading into his redshirt senior season. D.J. Killings, a rising sophomore who came to UCF as a three-star recruit, saw limited action. There are two other cornerbacks still on the roster as well; plus, the Knights were able to lure two more besides Gibson on National Signing Day.
With O’Leary’s style of defense, forcing defensive backs to cover large areas, sometimes going one-on-one with some of the best receivers in the nation, bringing in top cornerbacks was a priority, and it seems like the staff has accomplished that mission the last two years.
UP NEXT in the UCF National Signing Day series: Tre Neal, CB