Film Study: Notre Dame CB commit Kalon Gervin

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

CB Kalon Gervin, 5-11, 180; Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech.

The numbers: Gervin did not allow a touchdown to be thrown his way during his junior season. He totaled 23 tackles, 14 pass breakups and one interception for Cass Tech. The Technicians (14-0) won the MHSAA Division 1 state championship.

The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 12 cornerback. 247Sports – Four stars, No. 16 cornerback.


Film link here.

First impression: Gervin is a nagging cornerback who is tough to shake in coverage. His combination of speed and physicality make him a valuable part of the secondary. He has the potential to be a shutdown cornerback in college.

Strengths: Gervin doesn’t have an overwhelming stature as a defender, but he doesn’t let receivers easily dictate their routes against him. He’s great at forcing players to the sideline and isn’t afraid to be physical. He has the speed to run with receivers on deep balls. His quick acceleration allows him to keep up with cuts by receivers and close on the ball to break up passes. Gervin shows good instincts in understanding what a receiver is trying to do and mirroring that route. Gervin reminds me of Irish cornerback Shaun Crawford in that he makes covering a wide receiver look easier than it should.

Proof of prowess: (:28) Gervin displays his closing speed by jumping this comeback route for an interception. He starts in a soft coverage backpedal, but he quickly erases the cushion when the receiver cuts back to the quarterback. A ball delivered slow and late is easy pickings for Gervin … (:51) Running stride for stride with his opponent, it’s easy to forget who is the receiver and who is the cornerback down the field. By sticking to the inside, Gervin puts himself in perfect position — even though he might not have completed the catch — to make a play on the ball and prevent a deep completion … (1:37) Gervin attacks the wide receiver's inside shoulder and forces him to the outside. As he runs down the field with the receiver, he keeps his hand in contact and mimics the movement of his opponent. His sound fundamentals (and quick feet) allow him to stick with the receiver and not be fooled by a double move.

Competition level: Cass Tech didn’t dodge top contenders in its undefeated season. The Technicians defeated all four teams ranked directly behind them in the state, according to the MaxPreps ranking. In addition to a 4-0 record against top five teams, Cass Tech won games against two more teams ranked in the top 25. The best receiver Gervin faced in a game last season was Ambry Thomas, a four-star enrollee at Michigan. However, Gervin wasn’t tasked with guarding Thomas often. The three touchdowns Thomas scored in one game against Cass Tech didn’t involve Gervin in coverage. Gervin had plenty of talent to deal with in practice in the form of Michigan signee Donovan Peoples-Jones, a five-star wide receiver.

Left to prove: I mentioned Crawford earlier, but Gervin has only scratched the surface on what kind of playmaker Crawford was in high school. Crawford made explosive plays on both offense and defense to help carry his team. Gervin hasn’t developed to that level yet, but he also wasn’t required to with talented and older teammates last season. Opposing quarterbacks may try to stay away from Gervin as a senior, but it would be nice to see him continuing to make plays on the ball and force more turnovers. A few of his highlights show him in position to make an interception, but it cuts away before it’s clear whether he caught the ball or not. Can he finish more plays like that as a senior? That could propel him to an elite level.


Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Cornerback Kalon Gervin, a 2018 recruit, reported a Notre Dame offer on Feb. 6, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)