It's Final Chance For Brandon Gibson
Brandon Gibson, a 6-2, 194-pound fifth year senior from Mobile, won the "Jerry Duncan I Like To Practice Award" last spring. No wonder he likes to practice in the spring. That's when he's had his great success at Alabama. In 2010 he had 18 receptions for 216 yards and three touchdowns in the three scrimmages. He caught the A-Day Game winning pass from A.J. McCarron that spring.
In real games, not so much.
For his career he has only six catches for 64 yards. Last year he played in 12 games as a receiver and on special teams, but pulled in only four receptions for 39 yards. He did score a touchdown, taking a blocked punt into the end zone against Georgia State.
This year Bama is without Julio Jones, the Tide's dominant receiver the past few years. Jones has gone to the NFL. Additionally, Alabama won't have senior Darius Hanks for the first couple of games of 2011. That's opportunity for Gibson.
"I'm going to try to take advantage of every opportunity I have, not to take away from anybody else," Gibson said following Alabama's Monday practice. "I'm coming out every day working hard. This is my last year; could be my last year to play football. I'm coming out with a great attitude and leaving it all on the field.
"I think I've been getting better with my leadership skills. I think it's know that I come out every day giving 100 per cent, coming out every day with the right mentality, right focus, kind of leading the younger guys. I'm one of the seniors in the group, so I just try to do my best to bring the young guys along."
Gibson also doesn't back down from a challenge, even when it comes from his quarterback. Prior to meeting with the media Monday evening, Gibson confessed he had been in an argument with A.J. McCarron in the locker room.
"Oh, we were getting in an argument about high school football. That's the number one topic in the locker room. Everybody says they could beat each other. I told him every year we played when I was at UMS and he was at St. Paul's we beat them every year, so he kind of got quiet then."
The prep record notwithstanding, Gibson has a high opinion of McCarron.
I've known the guy since high school," Gibson said. "He's a great guy, great competitor, never going to back down. He's going to be a great leader for us. He comes out every day and makes great plays for us. He comes out each day with Phil (Phillip Sims) with a great attitude, they help each other out, they are both great competitors, and with either one we're going to be fine."
He said McCarron never backs down. "It's a great quality to have," Gibson said. "When you have a guy who is a great competitor like that, you are almost sure he is going to be a winner. So I'm looking forward to a great season with either one of them (McCarron or Sims)."
Tuesday is Bama's fifth practice of the spring, meaning the first day the team can be in full gear. Gibson explained, "We've been in shoulder pads and helmets. It's hot enough, but it will be even hotter tomorrow. We're looking forward to banging around a little bit. We'll be ready."
Along with high school football conversation, getting into full gear has been a locker room topic, too.
"There's a lot of trash talking going on between the offense and defense," Gibson said. "Dont'a Hightower is always talking about ‘Oh, when we get the pads on we'll see,' so we'll see tomorrow."
Gibson discussed some of his teammates on offense and defense.
He said that safety Mark Barron "just keeps coming and coming and coming back. He's a guy I played against in high school, and he hasn't changed. In high school he played running back and safety. He's a natural. He and Robert Lester have a nose for the football back there. They mesh well together. He's an All-American. He's going to continue to play that way for us."
It was suggested that Gibson might have mentioned Barron as a hard hitter.
"Trent Richardson could probably tell you that," Gibson said. "Trent's a bruiser, but Mark's not afraid to hit him. They go at it in practice. He won't back down from anybody."
Gibson has a high opinion of cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
"He's going to be good," Gibson said. "One thing he's got an advantage over a lot of cornerbacks is he's so long. You'll think you have him beat on a deep ball and he'll reach those long arms out there and make a big play. I look for him to have a good season, too.
"I kind of see him as a Deion type. He looks up to Deion -- Deion Sanders. He comes out every day, he works hard. I feel like I'm getting work when I'm going against him because he's one of our best DBs."
Gibson said the young defensive backs "have improved a lot. Coach Saban demands a lot from them. Not only does Coach Saban make you a great football player, but also a better person. Those young DBs are coming along in a great way. I can see a lot of them playing this year. They are going to be good and I see the having great success."
One defensive back who comes with a lot of hype is Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix. Gibson said the hype is warranted.
"He's a great player," Gibson said. "He comes out and works hard every day. He's the typical guy you want in your defensive backfield. He's learning, he's hungry, and I can see him playing this year, too."
Gibson has also taken note of the young wide receivers coming up. He said the freshmen have a lot to learn, but are competing hard, and that the other young receivers have done well in difficult conditions ("it's demanding, it's hot, you've got coaches yelling at you"). He said he, Hanks, and Marquis Maze -- the three seniors -- "have to be the leaders to keep those guys going."
Gibson described DeAndrew White as "very fast, has a lot of ability. He's a guy who can make some big plays for us. We help each other out, we can sustain through practice a lot longer than most guys can. He's in great shape. He's a great player and I look up to him as a good player even though he's younger than I am."
He said true freshmen Marvin Shinn and Bradley Sylve are smart guys, "but they have a lot to learn. You want to lead them in the right direction. When they ask questions, you want to give them the right answer. They'll come along."
Alabama is practicing towards the start of the season on September 3 when the Crimson Tide hosts Kent State.
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