Jahmyr Gibbs poised for breakout season with Alabama
It did not take long for Jahmyr Gibbs to showcase his abilities.
With a little more than eight minutes left in the third quarter of Alabama’s spring game, the elusive running back took a handoff from Bryce Young out of the shotgun before patiently waiting for a hole to open in front of him. Once he saw his opportunity, he took it.
Offensive linemen Seth McLaughlin and Damieon George Jr. walled off the White team's blitz to the weak side, leaving the middle of the field open for Gibbs. Without hesitation, the Georgia Tech transfer exploded into the open field and sashayed by Brian Branch en route to a 75-yard touchdown.
The score helped introduce Gibbs to the Alabama fanbase, but his coaches and teammates have been seeing plays like that all offseason.
“Jahmyr has been doing great,” linebacker Henry To’oTo’o said. “So fast, so elusive, gets in and out of his cuts so quick. I’ve never guarded a back like him before. Being able to see that has been so helpful to me learning how I can work on my game. Jahmyr has been great. The whole running back room has been great. We’re really deep in that room. Competing.”
To’oTo’o’s remarks are just the latest in a long list of compliments about Gibbs’ game, and rightfully so.
The junior averaged more than five yards per carry while leading the Yellow Jackets with 746 yards and four touchdowns on the ground last season. Along with his explosiveness, Gibbs is known for his catching ability, tallying 773 yards receiving and five touchdowns during his two seasons with Georgia Tech.
During his 19 games with the Yellow Jackets, Gibbs averaged 40.68 receiving yards per game, which would be the highest per game average in the Nick Saban era. The closest to Gibbs’ mark was Najee Harris’ 32.7-yard average in 2020. According to Pro Football Focus, Gibbs ranked second in the nation with a 91.5 receiving grade, trailing only Georgia’s Kenny McIntosh who graded at 92.1.
“He’s like a little wide receiver sometimes,” outside linebacker Will Anderson Jr. said during SEC Media Days in July. “You have to take those wheel routes on him and stuff like that, you really get on your horse because he’s got wheels and he can run. He’s dangerous out of the backfield, but I love it. It’s fun to watch.”
Gibbs' ability to be effective as a runner and as a receiver will help Alabama's play-action game.
Saban said on Thursday that he liked the additions the team made in the offseason, helping Alabama be more consistent in the run game. He added that establishing a consistent running attack will allow the Crimson Tide to be more dynamic with its play calling, not only in play action but in what he calls "advantage throws."
Gibbs’ arrival deepens an already stacked running back room that features redshirt junior Trey Sanders as well as juniors Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams along with incoming freshmen Emmanuel Henderson Jr. and Jamarion Miller. All six of those backs ranked in the top 100 of their respective recruiting classes.
Because of the bevy of talent, Alabama may look to spread out the carries rather than making Gibbs handle the bulk of the duties. Gibbs averaged around 13 carries per game during his two-year tenure with Georgia Tech. If that workload holds, Sanders and McClellan will be used in a support role.
Regardless, the addition of Gibbs gives Alabama another dynamic weapon out of the backfield.
“He’s an outstanding player,” Saban said at SEC Media Days. “He’s a very mature person. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s very talented from an ability standpoint. He’s got speed. He’s a really good receiver. He does a great job of pressing holes and getting the defense to commit to things and making a cut and gets to top speed very quickly, which are all tremendous assets for a running back.”