Jaded by the unfavorable experience of a cousin who attended military school, Westfield rising senior James Gibson tried his best to have an open mind as he prepared to visit Army’s campus for a football camp on the weekend of June 28.

“Honestly, I thought it was going to be like a prison because of what you see on TV and what my cousin had said, so I said I’d never go to a military school,” the safety said. “But when one of the coaches came by to see me before, he said it’s not like anything you think it is.”

Sure enough, Gibson was floored by what he called “a city behind walls,” marked by fine facilities, nice people and a wealth of academic opportunity. In turn, Gibson made sure to impress the Army coaches during the one-day football camp, leading to a scholarship offer and ultimately, the safety’s commitment to the Black Knights on Monday.

“My dad and mom wanted the best academic school and I wanted the best combination of academics and athletics, and I felt Army was that,” said Gibson, who chose Army over James Madison, along with offers from Elon, Liberty, Nevada, Norfolk State and Old Dominion. “I did my research and I really liked the school when I went there.”

As Army’s 11th commitment in the 2015 class, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Gibson brings a brand of play marked by speed and physicality to West Point. Several schools recruited Gibson as a linebacker, but he is looking forward to playing on the last line of defense for Army, using the same blend of skills that helped him score two touchdowns last season off a fumble recovery and blocked field goal while helping Westfield go 11-3 en route to a spot in the Virginia 6A North region championship game.

With his college decision behind him, Gibson hopes to use his leadership and skills as a senior to help Westfield attain more success this fall.

“We expect to win, just like we expect out of team every year,” Gibson said. “As a senior, it puts a little more pressure on me to lead but winning is the only thing acceptable at Westfield.”