In this file photo, Chattanooga's Joseph Thornton (5) and Bryant Henry (31) stop Alabama's Brandon Gibson (11) during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Until now, Brandon Gibson’s Alabama legacy is thin.
His winning catch in last year’s A-Day game sums it up, really. Time is running out for the fifth-year senior who came to Alabama with a good deal of recruiting hype.
But timing — a factor that hasn’t always favored Gibson — is in his favor this spring, former quarterback Greg McElroy said. Every August Gibson was a member of the all-camp team, McElroy said. Julio Jones just got in the way.
Gibson was coming off his redshirt year when Jones blew into Tuscaloosa as the next great receiver.
“When everyone gets a real opportunity and a real shot, Brandon is like always the best guy,” McElroy said. “He’s just always so consistent. The unfortunate thing for Brandon is he had a guy named Julio Jones in front of him playing the same position. It’s not any slight against Brandon and what he can do physically; it’s just Julio was just so special. He’s going to be a great player.”
Gibson sure hopes his old passer is right. Three of his four catches last season came in the season-opening blowout of San Jose State. Special teams was his best bet for playing time, and he did well at that.
Scooping up a blocked punt against Georgia State, Gibson ran it in for a 22-yard touchdown.
“A lot of people don’t take special teams really serious,” he said. “But I tell [special teams coach Bobby] Williams all the time that I want to be one of those guys they can depend on special teams and I’ll bring some young guys with me. Special teams, being a part of that, has been good for me.”
His size aids his chances for increased playing time as a receiver. Without the 6-foot-4 Jones, Darius Hanks at 6-foot is the tallest returning receiver with significant production. Gibson stands 6-2.
“Just being a bigger wide receiver is my biggest strength,” Gibson said, “And being a guy that can be really versatile playing multiple positions.”
Since he only played late in games and has only six career catches, there is something of a mystery factor to Gibson’s potential. His catch of AJ McCarron’s 39-yard heave on a bonus play that ended the 2010 A-Day game remains the best evidence.
Contact Michael Casagrande at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6273.