Brandon Gibson Looks Like Receiver

Few people among the 91,000-plus at Bryant-Denny Stadium were happier than Brandon Gibson after the White team defeated the Crimsons, 23-17, to win Alabama's annual A-Day game. And why not? Gibson had just hauled in a 39-yard strike from A.J. McCarron to give his team a sudden-death win and clinch a Monday night steak dinner.

"I just hope we gave the fans a good look at the 2010 Alabama team," said Brandon Gibson, still grinning 45 minutes after his heroics.

Gibson has seen action on both sides of the ball this spring in an effort to bolster depth in a young, inexperienced Tide secondary, but based on his output in the previous week's closed scrimmage and at A-Day, it's difficult to imagine the junior playing anywhere but offense. Yet and still, he says what he learned during the "four or five practices" he played safety will prove invaluable during his final two seasons at The Capstone.

"When you've played the position that you're going against, it definitely makes you better," noted the 6-foot-2, 196-pounder, "because you know how to read safeties. You know how to read corners. You know what they're going to do, before they even do it, so you can make big plays at wide receiver."

Big plays, like the one Gibson made to clinch the steaks. "The last play I saw the safety inside, he was a little bit too far inside. Usually in those plays the corners are used to us running outside, he got wide and I just took it straight up the field. I just ran straight down the field, and made a big play. I got a good ball from A.J. (quarterback A.J. McCarron), so it was just a matter of going out, having fun, and getting better. It felt good. I haven't had that big moment yet, but I'm not trying to be too excited about it. It was a big play, but I'm just trying to do that in front of 92,000 people during the (regular) season."

(Gibson can be forgiven for, during his excitement, forgetting that Bryant-Denny Stadium will hold over 101,000 fans the next time he plays in a real game.)

Saturday, Gibson hauled in a game-high eight catches for 142 yards and the clinching touchdown. Last week, Gibson grabbed 10 balls for 74 yards and another six points. As one veteran Alabama football observer put it, "He's playing wide receiver like a guy who doesn't want to play safety."

Gibson says he's glad he got the shot on defense. "It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from Coach (Nick) Saban as far as the defense. I definitely feel it made me a better player, and I learned a lot about the other side of the ball. Wherever Coach Saban wants me, that's where I'm going to play, and give my 100 per cent effort."

Another thing Gibson enjoyed about Saturday was playing with redshirt freshman quarterback and fellow Port City native McCarron. "A.J.'s a good kid. I've known him since his freshman year at St. Paul's down in Mobile. He's just a raw talent. Once you put raw talent with a guy with a smart head, and who likes to compete, then you have a great player. I think that's what he proved today: that he could make some plays, and get the team going."

Saturday, McCarron finished 12-for-28 passing for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns. In three spring scrimmage's, he went 40-for-76 passing for 640 yards, eight TD's and no interceptions. Not too shabby for a backup quarterback.

Gibson says McCarrron and his ability to step in when/if needed is just one of many reasons the Tide should field a rather formidable offense when it takes the field against San Jose State September 4.

"I don't like to make comparisons, but this year we'll definitely be a little better. It just depends on how practice goes and how we come out and work in practice and try to get better and make plays. We just come out and work hard. We work hard and have a good work ethic and we just come out and do the best we can. Guys make plays, you got to want to do it. You got to give commitment like Coach Saban says and just go out and do what it takes to win."

Entering his fourth year in Tuscaloosa, Gibson has yet to earn his first college letter. As such, he has a special place in his heart for walk-ons, even though Gibson is on scholarship. He was more than glad to talk about two of his teammates who won the Bear Bryant Outstanding Non-Scholarship Player Awards: Hoover defensive back Will Lowery and wide receiver Hardie Buck of Vestavia Hills.

"Will Lowery and Hardie Buck are the two hardest-working guys I've ever seen in my life," Gibson said, and he'd know since he spent parts of spring ball working with both players. "They go hard every day in practice. I don't know what they're trying to earn, but they both come out and have fun and give the team a look.

"Will Lowery: he looks like he's done a great job, and Hardie Buck definitely gives (the defense) a look over there at wide out. He gives those DBs an opportunity to get better. I love those two guys. I'll take them under my wing any day as best friends, teammates, anything you want to put them as. They go hard every single day. I think about them every day, and they're just two great guys. I knew (the awards) were coming."

And back to that no-letter thing for Gibson. With the way the personable receiver finished out his spring, it's a safe bet that will change at the end of the 2010 season.

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