The Alabama Crimson Tide struck gold in the 2021 transfer portal with Jameson Williams. As the star receiver prepares to be a top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, running back Jahmyr Gibbs could be the next success story.
Nick Saban will likely lose a dozen players to the upcoming NFL Draft, including running back Brian Robinson Jr. With shoes to fill on offense and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young needing more help, the new Crimson Tide running back could be part of the solution.
Alabama landed Gibbs via this offseason, pulling in the No. 6 player in 247 Sports’ transfer portal rankings. After generating plenty of buzz during practices, the Crimson Tide’s newest running back exploded onto the scene with fans watching the moment.
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Making his debut in the Alabama spring game, Gibbs showed off his breakaway speed as a home-run threat with a 75-yard touchdown run against the ‘white’ team in the third quarter.
Saban rotated his backs in the spring game, with six different ball carriers combining for 164 rushing yards. While Trey Sanders (four carriers, 14 yards) and Jamarion Miller (15 carries, 44 yards) got plenty of work, Gibbs put on the best performance and earned spring game MVP honors.
- Jahmyr Gibbs stats (Alabama spring game): 9 carries, 100 yards, 1 TD
Jahmyr Gibbs background
The 5-foot-11 running back started his career at Georgia Tech, committing to the program as a four-star recruit in 2020. He saw the field immediately, turning 89 carries into 460 rushing yards and four touchdowns (5.2 ypc). He also flashed the ability to work out of the backfield, hauling in 24 receptions for 303 yards and three touchdowns.
- Jahmyr Gibbs 247 Sports recruiting: No. 8 running back, 76th-ranked recruit in 2020
After flashing incredible talent as a freshman, Gibbs became the Yellow Jackets’ featured player in 2021. He led the team in carries (143), rushing for 746 yards with four touchdowns and finished second on the team in receiving yards).
Unfortunately for Georgia Tech, it finished the season with a 3-9 record and lost its last six games of the 2021 season. Realizing he needed to find a better opportunity, Gibbs entered the transfer portal and chose the Crimson Tide.
“Stoutly built with a compact frame. Has added a good bit of mass over the last year of his high school career. Saw his production double from junior to senior year, making him one of the hottest running back prospects in the 2020 cycle. Plays with high-level quickness and burst. Runs rhythmically with a natural feel and the ability to accelerate and decelerate quickly. Uses his vision to set up blocks and has high-end change of direction with the ability to make a bevy of cuts in different directions without slowing down. Looks to have average to above-average speed and has an easy stride in the open field. Embraces contact and can run through arm tackles at the second level.”2020 Jahmyr Gibbs scouting report by 247 Sports’ Charles Power
He’s a major addition to Alabama’s backfield. Pro Football Focus credited him with an 88.3 overall grade this past year, one of the highest marks in the country. He’ll now be joining a team with a quarterback leading Heisman Watch 2022 and running behind a much better offensive line.
Expectations for Jahmyr Gibbs in 2022
While Saban likes to keep multiple running backs involved, rotating talent to keep everyone’s legs fresh, the Crimson Tide’s starting running back will get plenty of opportunities.
Robinson Jr. received 271 carries this past season, nearly 200 more than Trey Sanders. In 2022, Najee Harris received 251 carries compared to Robinson’s 91 and the split was 209 to 96 in Harris’ favor in 2019.
- Jahmyr Gibbs 40 time: 4.5 seconds
There might be a bigger split in 2022 considering Alabama’s depth at the position. Sanders is a capable runner and Jase McClellan will be ready for the 2022 college football season. However, Gibbs is making a strong impression on his teammates and that includes Young.
“Adding him as part of the team has been a huge addition. You saw that big run, that explosiveness, really that big-play ability that he brings is something that’s really big. It’s one thing when you get a run and it’s a 5- or 20-yard run, and it’s a whole new thing when it’s a 75-yard run like you saw today, like he’s capable of on almost every play. He’s come in, he’s worked really, he’s fit in really well and to have that explosiveness is huge for us offensively.”Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Bryce Young ron running back Jahmyr Gibbs, via 247 Sports
It’s possible we see a situation like the 2018 season when Damien Harris (150 carries, 876 rushing yards), Najee Harris (117 carries, 783 rushing yards) and Josh Jacobs (120 carries, 640 rushing yards) combined for a three-headed attack.
The rotation makes projections for Gibbs more difficult. However, it’s undeniable that he’s made a strong impression and his talent speaks for itself. We wouldn’t be surprised to see Gibbs emerging as the featured back late in the season, delivering multiple 100-yard games against SEC opponents and making big plays in the College Football Playoff.
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If he stays healthy and meets expectations, we could be looking at a top-50 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.