New Alabama RB is making quite an impression on teammates, why they like his game

Perhaps it’s the Jameson Williams effect or maybe Jahmyr Gibbs is just that explosive.

But the preseason chatter surrounding this transfer from Georgia Tech would indicate Alabama is expecting a breakout season from the speedy running back. And the Williams comparisons could extend to the big-play capability Gibbs brings not just to the running game but the passing game as well.

Gibbs caught 60 passes in his two seasons with the Yellow Jackets that netted 773 yards with five touchdowns.

Crimson Tide linebacker Will Anderson flashed a smile when asked about Gibbs on Tuesday.

“He’s like a little wide receiver sometimes,” Anderson said. “When we have to take the wheel routes with him, you really have to get on your horse because he has wheels and he can run. He’s dangerous out of the backfield but I love it. It’s fun to watch.”

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior from Dalton, Georgia averaged 5.2 yards a carry playing for a Georgia Tech program that went 6-16 in his two seasons there. Stepping into a primary role this spring, Gibbs was the A-Day MVP thanks mostly to a 75-yard touchdown run.

Alabama safety Jordan Battle wasn’t on the field for that sample of Gibbs’ open-field speed. The secondary veteran, however, is well-acquainted with Gibbs as locker mates who recently traveled together.

Their on-field meetings will benefit both down the line. But who wins more?

“I think it’s 50/50,” Battle said. “I stood him up a couple of times. He got me a couple of times but that’s the thing about Alabama. You’re going to compete every day. You’re going to be that competitor every day. You’re going to make a play. You’re going to miss a play. That’s how you learn how to not miss that play in the game.”

Gibbs is among the handful of key skill-position transfers who’ll have to step into big roles this fall. At running back, Alabama lost leading-rusher Brian Robinson to graduation while Jase McClellan (40 carries, 191 yards) and Roydell Williams (48 carries, 284 yards) returned after both tore ACLs last fall.

Nick Saban specifically noted Gibbs’ maturity when asked about Gibbs on Tuesday.

“He’s got great work ethic,” Saban said. “He’s very talented from an ability standpoint. He’s got speed. He’s a really good receiver. Does a great job of pressing holes and getting the defense to commit to things and making the cut and gets to top speed very quickly, which are all tremendous assets for a running back.

“So he’s made a really, really positive impact on our teams in a lot of ways, on the field and off the field.”

Michael Casagrande is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @ByCasagrande gold we Facebook.

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