Jahmyr Gibbs is still months away from suiting up for Alabama in a real game, but the former Chattanooga-area prep standout seems to be settling in nicely as a Crimson Tide running back.
Gibbs, who starred at Dalton High School and remained in his home state to begin his collegiate career at Georgia Tech before transferring after two seasons with the Yellow Jackets, won the Dixie Howell Memorial Award as the MVP of Saturday's A-Day spring game in Tuscaloosa.
He did so despite being a member of the Crimson team, which lost 25-7 to the White in front of 31,077 on a wet afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Gibbs provided his team's touchdown with a 75-yard run in the third quarter after the White had taken a 19-0 lead, and he finished with a game-high 100 rushing yards on nine carries.
Christian Leary, playing for the White, had a game-best five catches for 106 yards and the scrimmage's only other touchdown as the receiver on a 52-yard pass from Jalen Milroe, who finished 11-of-23 for 149 yards. Kickers were 6-for-6 on field-goal attempts in the game, with three each by Jack Martin and Will Reichard, and coach Nick Saban complimented the specialists after the game.
Bryce Young, who as a sophomore and first-year starter last fall won the Heisman Trophy and quarterbacked the Tide to a Southeastern Conference championship and a spot in the national championship game, was 14-for-29 passing for 153 yards.
"I think it was really tough conditions," Saban said in a news conference. "One of the things that we didn't do all spring was have a wet ball practice, and we never had a practice in the rain, which we'd never done in the spring. We always do in the fall in case we get a day like this when we play a game. I do think that was probably a bit of an issue for throwing the ball and catching the ball, and it led to a of couple turnovers early in the game. But all in all, I was pleased with the effort."
Gibbs, in addition to his MVP honor Saturday, received additional spring recognition as he shared the Johnny Musso Offensive Back Award with Trey Sanders. In 19 games (18 starts) at Georgia Tech, the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Gibbs totaled 1,206 rushing yards on 232 carries (5.2 average) with eight touchdowns, and he proved to be a capable option in the passing game (60 catches, 773 yards, five touchdowns) and on special teams (31 kickoff returns, 794 yards, one touchdown).
The day also included special recognition of Wilbur Jackson and John Mitchell and the pioneering roles they took on as Black football players at Alabama.
G-Day: Rings and things
The 68,002 who were in the stands at Sanford Stadium for Georgia's G-Day spring game saw a scrimmage that ended with the Black beating the Red 26-23 on Jared Zirkel's 27-yard field goal as time expired.
Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart was glad of that. Not so much for the entertainment value but for the enrichment of his team as it transitions from the program's first national championship season since 1980 to getting ready to face Oregon on Sept. 3 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium — the same Atlanta venue the Bulldogs hope to return to in December for the SEC title game.
"For me it's about making the players go out there and play well," Smart said. "How did they handle the pregame, how did they handle the halftime, because everybody thinks it doesn't matter. It does matter, because the next time they do it, it's going to be in Atlanta against Oregon. So for me it's a dress rehearsal."
This dress rehearsal included incumbent starting quarterback Stetson Bennett completing 15 of 35 passes for 273 yards and three touchdowns for the Black, as well as Kearis Jackson leading the receivers with four catches for 107 yards. That included a 25-yard reception to set up the winning kick.
Carson Beck was 13-of-21 for 246 yards for the Red, and that team's leading rusher was another quarterback — Brock Vandagriff, who totaled 45 yards on three runs.
The day included the presentation of national championship rings to last season's seniors, and Smart — who said he hasn't gotten his ring yet — expressed pride in that group and said "the ovation they got means so much."
Now, though, the Bulldogs will try to make sure they're ready for game day without them.
"We've got a lot of good football players here today," Smart said. "We've got a lot of good football players leaving, too, and got a lot of good football players on the field. I was excited about that."