Arguably, the most impactful player to enter the transfer portal this season was Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs. The Dalton, Georgia native went from spurned Georgia Bulldog non-recruit to consensus top back in the country despite playing for an upstart Yellow Jacket program that has won just six games in Gibbs’ two collective seasons in Midtown, Atlanta.
Entering the portal was a reasonable decision for Gibbs given that the Yellow Jackets have been the 71st and 92nd ranked offense in his two seasons. Despite his talent, Gibbs has just three career 100 yard rushing games. Running lanes have been difficult to come by for Gibbs who has been held to less than 60 yards rushing in seven games despite being the focus of coach Geoff Collins’ offense, an offense which is still attempting to adapt to the modern era after a decade in the triple option under Paul Johnson. Perhaps the worst example of that offensive ineptitude was Gibbs’ -10 yard performance against Pitt this past season.
But the raw numbers do not tell the entire story.
Behind the Numbers
Ugly offense aside, Gibbs has been the best in the country when it comes to receiving production amongst running backs. Gibbs’ 16.8% receiving market share is in the 95th percentile. His 58.8% backfield dominator is in the 75th percentile. He had the second most receiving yards amongst running backs and ranked third nationally in all-purpose yardage with 150.8 per game. Gibbs’ 13.3 yards per reception in 2021 was second amongst running backs and more than some wide receiver names commonly associated with big plays including Josh Downs, Jahan Dotson, and Drake London.
Coach Collins has used Gibbs as creatively as any back in the country. As opposed to simple check downs out of the backfield, Gibbs was regularly used in the vertical passing game on long developing wheel routes and arrow routes. His lofty receiving product is a result of a combination of Collins’ scheme and Gibbs’ natural explosive run after the catch ability.
Gibbs receiving production and unique schematic usage is what sets him apart from other backs in the county. In other words, Geoff Collins’ offense emphasized Gibbs’ greatest strength.
Where is Gibbs Headed?
Just in the last year we witnessed Eric Gray, a player with a similar skill set and similar situation, transfer from an upstart program to supposed greener pastures in Oklahoma with Lincoln Riley. Instead of creative usage and dynamic play, Gray faded into relative obscurity. He appears headed toward being an undrafted free agent whenever he declares for the NFL draft. But Gibbs is worlds better as both a rusher and receiver. While similarly sized to Gray, Gibbs demonstrates a better ability to convert speed to power. And while scat backs are not usually known for contact balance, Gibbs has it in spades, specifically for a player his size. This is perhaps best demonstrated by the then freshman running back steamrolling eventual second round NFL draft pick Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in Tech’s contest against Notre Dame last year. With the crystal balls pointing to the Crimson Tide, let’s cross our collective fingers that Gibbs finds greener pastures with Bryce Young and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien.
**Receiving production stats for this article were provided by Chris Moxley**
*Felix H. Sharpe is a Co-Founder of Campus2Canton.com and co-host of the Devy Debate. You can yell at him @sharpereview on Twitter.