Gibbs talks competition in the RB room, off-season gains, more
Jahmyr Gibbs played in seven games during his freshman season at Georgia Tech, but those seven games were more than enough to leave those around the program salivating for more.
Gibbs, who dealt with injuries and other obstacles during his first season On The Flats, is now headed into his first full Spring Practice where he is looking to further establish himself as an explosive and consistent option in the Jackets’ loaded running back room as they prepare for the 2021 season.
Along with Gibbs, veteran Jordan Mason, and fellow underclassmen Jamious Griffin and Dontae Smith, as well as others, are jockeying for reps in the backfield, which is led by running backs coach and former Georgia Tech star Tashard Choice. Gibbs said he and the others know that there is competition to be had each day, but it’s more of family-type atmosphere amongst the group rather than any bad feelings of trying to push others out of the way.
“We compete every day,” said Gibbs. “There’s a lot of talent in the room. Any of us could play at any given time. But it’s not like a competition like…I don’t know how to explain it. It’s not like we’re mean toward each other. We’re a family. We laugh. We hang out with each other outside of football. It’s more of like a friendly, competitive environment with us.”
Gibbs finished the 2020 campaign with 460 yards rushing on 89 carries with four touchdowns on the ground. He averaged an impressive 5.2 yards per carry and also made a solid contribution in the passing game as he finished with 303 yards on 24 catches with three touchdowns.
Gibbs’ season ended in 2020 as he was in the midst of one of his most explosive games yet in the Jackets’ 56-33 victory over Duke. He was forced to leave the game in the second half with a leg injury after rushing for 91 yards on six carries and two touchdowns and making four catches for 48 yards. He said he went back to basics following the injury in order to make sure he was ready to go for the Spring.
“First I had to get back right with all the rehab and stuff,” said Gibbs. “Then after that, I just got back to lifting weights, running, just trying to get better, get healthy.”
Gibbs added that the constant competition with Smith in the weight room and on the practice field has led to some gains physically.
“Me and Dontae, we ask each other every day when we come in, ‘how much do you weigh today?’” said Gibbs. “We kind of try to one-up each other. I played last year I’d say probably 192-193, somewhere around there. Right now I’m at 203. I feel I’m stronger. I’m pretty sure I got faster. It hasn’t seemed to slow me down at all so I feel good.”
Mason, the elder statesman in the running back room who is heading into his fourth season for the Jackets after rushing for 1,910 yards and 16 touchdowns over the last three years, said that guys like Gibbs, Smith and Griffin serve as a constant reminder of how hard he needs to work every day.
“These young guys, they push me every single day,” said Mason. “Every single day it’s something new. Y’all just saw Dontae (Smith) with his weight and how he’s moving. He’s still moving the same with more weight. We’ve still got Jah (Jahmyr Gibbs). We’ve still got the young cats coming in like Jamious (Griffin) and all of them. But every day it’s something new with them. They are always bringing the competition to the table, and we’re all fighting for the same position so we’re just going to keep going.”
Along with being healthy going into the Spring, Gibbs also had a change on the exterior as he is back in his familiar No. 1 following playing his freshman season at Georgia Tech wearing No. 21. No. 1 is the number he wore during all four years of his incredible high school career at Dalton High, and he said although it’s just a number, it certainly feels right having it on again as he goes through Spring Practice.
“It feels great to be back in that 1,” said Gibbs. “I’ve had it since my freshman year of high school. I had it until last year, and it’s great to be back in it.”
Gibbs, who was named All-ACC Honorable Mention as a kick returner following his freshman season, will look to display his skills and improvement on Friday, April 23 when Georgia Tech hosts its Spring Game at Bobby Dodd Stadium at 6 p.m. He will kick off his sophomore* season with the Jackets when they open the 2021 campaign on Sept. 4 hosting Northern Illinois.