Dolphins | Brandon Gibson

Sneakerhead WR Brandon Gibson takes a long, unusual path to Miami Dolphins

 

After one game with the Dolphins, Brandon Gibson has become a reliable third-down option.

 
Cleveland Browns defensive back Chris Owens (21) tracks down Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson in the fourth quarter of their game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sept. 8, 2013.
Cleveland Browns defensive back Chris Owens (21) tracks down Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson in the fourth quarter of their game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sept. 8, 2013.
Joe Rimkus Jr. / Staff Photo

abeasley@MiamiHerald.com

Brandon Gibson is an Army brat born in pre-unified Germany who has a love for history, jazz and basketball.

What really gets the Dolphins’ 26-year-old receiver talking, however, are shoes. He’s an unabashed sneakerhead whose collection tops 400 pairs.

“I think the first pair I was really excited about was high school,” Gibson said this week, ahead of the Dolphins’ Week 2 game in Indianapolis. “I transitioned from eighth grade to high school, and I got some [Nike] Red 11s and some Gary Payton 1s [also made by Nike]. I was a big fan of those.”

Once the shoe bug bit, it never let Gibson go. Between his places in Seattle and South Florida, he has a massive collection — some he wears, other he has just to own.

In all, the shoe wardrobe is worth tens of thousands of dollars. Rarities in his collection include Kryptonites, which Nate Robinson made famous in the 2009 Slam Dunk Contest, and the LeBron James MVP Championship Pack, of which just a few hundred were made.

“Eventually when I get my house, I’ll probably put some on display,” he said.

After his first regular-season week as a Dolphin, Gibson might consider putting down roots ASAP. He has quickly become Ryan Tannehill’s go-to guy on third downs.

In the Dolphins’ 23-10 victory against Cleveland in Week 1, Gibson — playing from the slot — was targeted six times on third down. The first pass he dropped; the next five he caught, all for first downs.

For a team that struggled in such situations a year ago, Gibson must already seem like money well-spent — especially considering their other big free agent acquisition, Mike Wallace, had just one catch on the day.

“He does have real good route savvy and coverage savvy,” said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who did make a point to chide Gibson for his drop. “He’s got instinct, he’s got awareness, he’s got a feel for what type of leverage he’s getting, he can diagnose a coverage relatively quickly and find kind of a soft spot.

“He found some open areas in zone. He attacked the proper leverage in man a couple times. He’s done a nice job,” Philbin continued.

Added Tannehill: “He’s a real weapon for us.”

Gibson’s fascinating path to Miami began in Europe, took him to Seattle and through St. Louis via Philadelphia.

Born in West Germany in August 1987, two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gibson was the son of a military plane inspector. Shortly after his son’s birth, dad Broderick “Steve” Gibson was transferred stateside and settled in the greater Seattle area.

That’s where Brandon Gibson grew up, instilled with a love of all music, but jazz and R&B in particular. History grabbed Gibson’s interest in school, and had he not been gifted athletically, he believes he would be a teacher.

(Gibson’s uncle, Vaughn Williams, became a teacher after a short NFL career. Gibson is also related to kick returner extraordinaire Eric Metcalf.)

Basketball was Gibson’s first love, but football was his path to a free education. He picked Washington State over other Pac-10 suitors and went on to set school records in career receiving yards (2,756 yards) and catches (182).

The Eagles drafted Gibson in the sixth round in 2009, but he only lasted half a season before he was traded to the Rams.

He had a career year in 2012 (51 catches, 691 yards and five touchdowns) and was one of the most coveted receivers available via free agency last spring.

Gibson choose Miami, even knowing that he would likely be the Dolphins’ third option behind Wallace and Brian Hartline.

“The best situation for me was Miami,” Gibson said. “I wasn’t worried about playing time, I wasn’t worried moneywise. I was worried about the team and how my role would be. I felt once I got here, this was the best situation.”

As for the potential of the Dolphins’ offense: “The sky’s really the limit. We’re not necessarily sure what our calling card will be, but there’s a lot we can do. It’s hard to stop three guys.”

Etc.

Dolphins players were off Thursday and return to practice Friday.

But several Dolphins were busy in the community.

Wallace hosted an event with students from Cutler Bay Academy at Laser Quest in Sunrise.

Also, current Dolphins players launched the team’s partnership with the Cloud 9 World Assembly at Bunche Park Elementary in Miami Gardens. The Miami Dolphins Foundation will sponsor character education books for the children at the school.

• Linebacker Zach Thomas and cornerbacks Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain are among the 16 first-year eligible modern-era candidates nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014.

• There were no changes to the Dolphins’ injury report Thursday. Cornerback Jamar Taylor (hernia) and quarterback Pat Devlin (ankle) would have been held out if the team practiced.

Read more Miami Dolphins stories from the Miami Herald

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