By Jeff White (email@example.com)
NAME: Adrian Gamble
POSITION: Wide receiver
VITALS: 6-1, 180-pound sophomore
HOMETOWN: Charlotte, N.C. (Independence High School)
COLLEGE CAREER: Gamble, who wears jersey No. 80, was one of nine true freshmen to play for UVa in 2012. He appeared in all 12 games and caught three passes for 35 yards and one touchdown, a 24-yarder against Louisiana Tech. He carried once, for a 5-yard gain, on a reverse against Duke.
OUTLOOK FOR 2013: Gamble’s combination of size and speed may be unmatched among the Cavaliers’ wideouts, and he figures to play a prominent role in the offense this fall, whether he starts or not.
“He’s getting better each day,” said Marques Hagans, who coaches Virginia’s wide receivers. “He’s just got to work on being consistent. That’s his biggest thing. Once he becomes consistent, then he can really be a big asset to us. He has unlimited potential and ability to be a very good receiver here.”
Gamble said: “I’m definitely ready for a breakout year. Last year was just a learning process. This year I’m ready to go.”
In the Wahoos’ intrasquad scrimmage Saturday night at Lambeth Field, Gamble scored one TD and would have had another if his right foot had not touched the sideline as he sprinted untouched to the end zone.
“I didn’t even know I stepped out of bounds,” Gamble said, shaking his head. “That’s why I kept running.”
CIRCUITOUS ROUTE: In July 2009, on the eve of his junior year at Independence High, Gamble committed to UVa, whose head coach then was Al Groh.
Virginia dismissed Groh after the 2009 season and hired Mike London, but Gamble honored his commitment and signed a letter of intent as planned in February 2011. For academic reasons, however, Gamble had to take a detour to Fork Union Military Academy, where he played for legendary coach John Shuman on the postgraduate team.
Gamble signed again with UVa in February 2012 and enrolled last summer.
“It was definitely good for me at Fork Union,” Gamble said Saturday. “Coach Shuman up there, he had a lot of good coaching points, so I felt like I was more prepared to come to UVa.”
On national signing day in 2012, London told reporters about an emotional meeting with the Gamble family. “I remember sitting on my couch [at the McCue Center] with his mom and dad and Adrian and saying that he had to fulfill some further academic obligations,” said London, whose son Brandon also played for Shuman at FUMA.
“Adrian became a leader at Fork Union, became a better player, a better person, a better student. I’m so proud of him. He could have probably gone somewhere else, but he decided that he wanted to come to Virginia.”
LOOKS DECEIVE: He remains lean, but Gamble distinguished himself in strength-and-conditioning coach Evan Marcus’ offseason program.
“It may not look like it to a lot of people, but I actually lift a lot of weights,” Gamble said. “I’m definitely stronger. I’ve gone up at least 50 pounds in all my lifts since I’ve gotten here.”
Gamble, who was also a track star in high school, also has become more explosive at UVa, Marcus said.
MULTIPLE OPTIONS: Gamble is one of 11 receivers on scholarship at Virginia, along with senior Tim Smith, juniors Miles Gooch, Darius Jennings, E.J. Scott and Dominique Terrell, sophomore Canaan Severin, redshirt freshmen Jamall Brown and Kyle Dockins, and true freshmen Andre Levrone and Keeon Johnson.
“There’s nothing like healthy competition,” Hagans said. “Reps just don’t come around like they used to. You gotta fight for every rep that you get, and you gotta make the most of every opportunity. But that’s how you bring the best out of people.”
His message for Gamble after last season?
“I told him there were things that he needed to work on,” Hagans said. “He needs to continue to be able to catch the ball better. He needs to know his plays and his assignments. He needs to be in better shape, and he needs to be consistent. He can’t make a great catch and then drop two. He can’t do the right play and then mess up on two others.”