***Editor’s note: STory will appear in programs sold at the Alabama-Austin Peay game.
Alabama has added several impact transfers on offense in recent years, from quarterback Jake Coker to offensive lineman Landon Dickerson to wide receiver Jameson Williams. This offseason, the Crimson Tide added the most Power 5 transfers of Nick Saban’s tenure, with five joining the legendary scheme, but none have contributed in as many ways as Jahmyr Gibbs.
The former Georgia Tech star has filled multiple roles for Alabama in three quarters of the regular season after two busy years at Atlanta, where he compiled 2,773 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns in 323 games (8.6 yards per game). He was also involved in the Crimson Tide offense this fall and is a big piece of the puzzle on this side of football.
“I think it was the best opportunity for me to improve,” Gibbs said of his decision to leave Georgia Tech and go to Alabama. “No knocking on my teammates. I love her. I still speak to them every day. Great group of guys. But I made the best decision for me.”
In nine games, Gibbs accounted for 1,300 all-purpose yards, which is the seventh greatest by any single player in the nation. He is Alabama’s leading rusher with 771 yards and six touchdowns on 113 carries — and is second in the SEC at 6.82 yards per carry — and also leads the tide with 39 catches, which he turned into 365 yards and three scores.
Listed as a running back, Gibbs is proud to also produce in the passing game.
“I would say my biggest strength is probably getting past the backfield,” Gibbs said. “It’s what the NFL likes, so I try to do my best to model my game after Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, players like that who take over the backfield.”
Capitalizing on his versatility and moving him throughout the formation was something coach Nick Saban and the offense envisioned when Gibbs put his name on the transfer portal.
“We thought he was multi-talented,” said Saban. “Obviously every time you bring a guy here you evaluate him by thinking he’s a really good player and you see what he did in last school. But once you have him here, you’ll see how well he suits us and how we can use his skills to our advantage.
“He didn’t do a lot of what I saw in the film where he was before, but he certainly did well for us here because he’s a very good athlete and a really good receiver.”
Not only has Gibbs worn many hats for Alabama this season, but he’s also been one of the team’s best players. Its versatility has come into its own, but so has its top speed. A perfect example of this was the win in Arkansas when quarterback Bryce Young suffered a shoulder injury. In the fourth quarter, when the offense needed a boost, it was Gibbs who came through.
He totaled 206 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 18 attempts (11.4 ypc). Gibbs broke free late in the game for two explosive touchdown carries (72, 76 yards) to eventually secure the away win for the Crimson Tide. That began a series of games in which he rushed for 463 yards and five touchdowns against Arkansas, Texas A&M and Tennessee in October.
Gibbs’ ability to build up blocks and then use his burst to pick up Chunk Yardage sets him apart.
“It’s a great block for a guy like Jahmyr,” said offensive lineman Emil Ekiyor. “He can make a lot of things happen on his own, but if we just get a hat on a hat, give him a little wrinkle, he can make some things happen. That’s pretty much our goal. Cover people in the running game, give him as much space as possible to do what he does best.
Not only has Gibbs been a huge help to UA’s offense, but his playmaking skills have also benefited his teammates on defense, who have to try and stop him on the practice field every day.
“Jahmyr did great,” said linebacker Henry To’o To’o. “So fast, so elusive, gets in and out of his cuts so quickly. I’ve never protected a back like him. Seeing this was so helpful for me to learn how to work on my game. Jahmyr was great.”
One of five transfers from Power 5 schools added to the roster this offseason, Gibbs joined offensive tackle Tyler Steen (Vanderbilt), wide receivers Jermaine Burton (Georgia) and Tyler Harrell (Louisville), and cornerback Eli Ricks (LSU) to make Tuscaloosa, Ala., his new home. While the running back room brought back three players with previous gaming experience in Jase McClellan, Trey Sanders and Roydell Williams, he was a welcome addition.
“He’s a very special running back,” Williams said of Gibbs. “Very fast. Of course he can pull out of the backfield. Very elusive. He’s a special guy. You can go deep with him. He’s a great guy to be around and he’s just great overall. “
The feeling is mutual for Gibbs, who has wasted no time adjusting to new positions and changing rooms.
“They welcomed me with open arms,” Gibbs said. “For the first two months it felt like I had been there for two years. You welcomed me. Like me, (Jordan) Battle, (DeMarcco Hellams) and (Brian Branch) we all go to the movies together. Me, Trey, Jase and Roydell we hang out every day. It was just a great experience with them. … The guys are cool. The boys are funny. I really like her.
“When I got here, they taught me what it’s like to be here. They talked me through games and so on. Coach (Robert Gillespie) too. I’ve known Coach G since high school because he hired me when he was UNC, so we already had a little relationship. It wasn’t like meeting a stranger – I already knew him. But the running back room, the guys are cool. I really like her.”
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