Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis first tipped his hand on the topic back in March, when he was asked about the talent, development and status of walk-on offensive lineman Joe Gibson.
“I don't look at Joe Gibson really like a walk-on, to be honest with you,” Weis said the day before spring practices began. “Now, I try to treat walk-ons the same as every other player, but I don't view him as a guy who can't play here. I'd be very surprised if Joe Gibson, during his stay here, didn't end up being a scholarship player because I think he's on his way.”
Monday, the time arrived, as Gibson, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound Rockhurst High graduate, learned that he had officially been placed on scholarship for the 2014 season during a brief team meeting.
Gibson's name has surfaced a lot since the end of the 2013 season. After red-shirting last season, Gibson found himself entrenched in a battle for the starting center spot this spring with junior-college transfer Keyon Haughton. Although Haughton, a junior, seemed to emerge from spring ball with the lead in the battle, nothing official has been announced and no depth chart has been released. That means Gibson likely still will have a shot to win the job in fall camp in August.
Either way, the red-shirt freshman is a guy who many Jayhawks, past and present, believe will make a strong contribution on KU's offensive line in the near future.
“Gibson, man, he’s a walk-on, but he’s not talented like a walk-on,” said recent graduate and former KU center Gavin Howard following the final game of 2013. “He’s really a scholarship-level talent.”
Former KU offensive line coach Tim Grunhard, an 11-year NFL veteran, also had high praise for Gibson before resigning.
Gibson comes from a family with deep ties to KU. His great uncle, Ray Evans, was an All-American in both football and basketball for the Jayhawks, and his uncle, Harry Gibson, played on the KU hoops team from 1962-64 and served as a team captain as a senior.