The Saban 250: 91-100 Jahmyr Gibbs or Henry To'oTo'o, Which Transfer Do You Have?

BamaCentral marks the end of the Nick Saban coaching era with the definitive rankings of his top 250 players with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs walks down a hallway lined with Sports Illustrated covers before going to a news conference for Alabama juniors to announce their intentions to enter the NFL draft, Jan. 2, 2023 in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs walks down a hallway lined with Sports Illustrated covers before going to a news conference for Alabama juniors to announce their intentions to enter the NFL draft, Jan. 2, 2023 in Tuscaloosa. / Gary Cosby Jr. / USA TODAY NETWORK
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — One came from a rival and filled a key defensive hole for two years, including as the primary play-caller for the entire unit. The other was a one-season wonder looking to cap his collegiate career with a big final season, and promote his draft stock.

Both were key additions out of the NCAA transfer portal for the Alabama Crimson Tide. One could easily make the argument for either player in regard to who made a bigger impact for one of Nick Saban's final seasons.

Go ahead and cheat, and look at their bios below for The Saban 250. Imagine for a moment where Alabama would have been without them, especially during the 2022 season. Then go the other direction. What might have happened had Gibbs transferred a year earlier from Georgia Tech, or been a four-year player for the Crimson Tide?

Might To'oTo'o have been a team captain with another season at Alabama? His statistics from Tennessee weren't considered, however one has to wonder how his development might have been a little different if he initially signed with the Crimson Tide.

Otherwise, the debate comes down to upside vs. longer career, which is a common theme with The Saban 250 and one we''ll frequently see in the top 100.

The Saban 250: 91-100

The Saban 250 ranks the players who made the biggest impact during his time with the Crimson Tide (2007-23).

91. Jahmyr Gibbs, RB, 2022

• 2022 second-team All-SEC (RB, RS)
• Transferred from Georgia Tech to play his final season at Alabama. He tallied 926 rushing yards, caught 44 passes for 444 yards, and scored 10 touchdowns from scrimmage. Also returned 13 kickoffs for 258 yards with a long of 57
• Led Alabama in all-purpose yards with 1,628 to rank third in the SEC and 21st nationally
• Finished second in Crimson Tide history for single-season receptions by a running back
• Was the 12th-overall selection in 2023 NFL Draft

92. Henry To'oTo'o, ILB, 2021-22

• 2022 All-SEC; 2021 second-team All-SEC
• Fifth-round selection in 2023 NFL Draft
• Was already a two-year starter when he transferred from Tennessee. Still notched 206 tackles with the Crimson Tide, including 16 for a loss and 6.5 sacks, along with two passes defended and one forced fumble
• Ranked second on Alabama and ninth in the SEC for tackles with 94, including eight for loss and 2.5 sacks his final season
• Leading the team with 112 tackles (8.5 for loss with four sacks) and broke up two passes while starting 15 games during his first season with the Crimson Tide

93. Dylan Moses, LB, 2017-20

• Named 2020 All-American
• 2020 All-SEC
• Spent time at three different linebacker spots in 39 games at Alabama. Finished with 196 career tackles, including 22 for a loss and 6.5 sacks, with passes defended, two interceptions and three forced fumbles
• Played in 11 games with two starts as a freshman (30 tackles, 5.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception) but suffered a foot injury in the College Football Playoff. Was named to SEC All-Freshman Team
• Was a Butkus Award finalist after leading the Crimson Tide with 86 tackles, including 10 for loss and 3.5 sacks, in 15 start
• Missed the 2019 season with a torn ACL
• Came back to make 80 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss and 1.5 sacks, and had an interception while playing through pain following the knee injury

94. Phidarian Mathis, DL, 2018-20

• 2021 second-team All-American
• 2021 second-team All-SEC
• Second-round selection in 2022 NFL Draft
• Team captain 2021
• Made 53 tackles on the defensive line in 2021, with 12 tackles for a loss and nine sacks, with six quarterback pressures and two pass breakups. Also recovered two fumbles and forced one
• In 2020, was credited with 31 tackles, including five for a loss and 1.5 sacks, three quarterback pressures, three pass breakups and one forced fumble
• In 55 career games, had 129 tackles, including 17.5 for a loss and 10.5 sacks, five passes defended, three force fumbles and three recoveries

95. Kenyan Drake, RB, 2012-15

• Third-round selection in 2016 NFL Draft
• Finished Crimson Tide career with 1,495 rushing yards
• Suffered broken leg at Ole Miss as a junior, and a broken arm as a senior. Playing behind Derrick Henry, finished his final year with 408 rushing yards plus 29 catches for 276 receiving yards
• Returned kickoff 95 yards for a crucial touchdown in 2015 national title game

Alabama running back Kenyan Drake on the cover of Sports Illustrated
Alabama running back Kenyan Drake on the cover of Sports Illustrated after the 2016 National Championship Game. /

96. Irv Smith Jr., TE, 2016-18

• Second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft
• As a junior had 44 receptions for 710 yards and seven touchdowns, setting a program record for single-season touchdowns by a tight end. He averaged 16.1 yards per reception
• Over two seasons had 58 catches for 838 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns

97. Mack Wilson, LB, 2016-18

• 2018 second-team All-American
• Fifth-round selection in 2019 NFL Draft
• Despite making just two starts as a sophomore led the team with four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown
• During final season had 71 tackles, including 4.5 for a loss and one sack, seven quarterback pressures, five pass breakups and two interceptions
• Had 113 career tackles, including seven for a loss and one sack, with six interceptions

98. ArDarius Stewart, WR, 2014-16

• 2016 All-SEC
• Third-round selection in 2017 NFL Draft
• His final season had a team-high 864 yards on 54 catches and eight touchdowns in 12 games
• Over three seasons had 129 catches for 1,713 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. Also returned 10 kicks for 191 yards (19.1 average)

99. Byron Young, DL, 2019-22

• 2022 second-team All-American
• Third-round selection in 2023 NFL Draft
• A four-year contributor who In 54 career games was credited with 139 total tackles, including 22.5 for a loss and 7.5 sacks, with three passes defended
• As a starter in 2022, had 48 tackles, including 5.5 for loss and four sacks, with six quarterback pressures, two pass breakups and a forced fumble
• In 2021, he played in all 15 games with seven starts. He totaled 39 tackles, including nine for loss and two sacks.

100. Chris Braswell, OLB, 2020-23

• Second-round selection in 2024 NFL Draft
• Played in 40 career games over three years, and was credited with 76 total tackles, including 16 for a loss and 11 sacks. Also had four forced fumbles, two blocked kicks, two passes defended and an interception that returned for a touchdown against Mississippi State
• During final season tied for third in the conference and ranked second on team with eight sacks

From 0 to 100: Kenyan Drake

Kickoffs have seemingly always defied time, especially the way they hang in the air as everyone waits for the football to spin through its arc and finally return to earth. There’s a lot going on underneath each, until it finally begins to plummet into the eager hands of a returner who then starts carrying it in the opposite direction.

That’s just with a normal kickoff.

Nobody wanted the one opening the 2015 collegiate season to be struck sooner or land faster than Alabama’s Kenyan Drake. 

He fielded it at about the 4-yard line of AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, hesitated at about the 20 and was then promptly dropped by two Wisconsin players. Drake had probably dreamed of reaching the end zone, but being tackled had never felt so good.

Not only was it his first play since suffering the gut-wrenching leg fracture and dislocated ankle at Ole Miss 11 months previous, the question of how he would react to taking a hit no longer loomed.

“It was great, obviously,” Drake said. “I haven’t played since October of last year, so it was kind of nerve-wracking initially, but the butterflies kind of went away. It was good to be back out there with my teammates playing.”

As excited as Drake was to be on the field again the Crimson Tide was just as thrilled to have him back. Not only was he arguably Alabama’s most explosive player following the departure of wide receiver Amari Cooper, but a team leader as well.

That role was especially crucial that season, as they were in short supply with the offense. Alabama had nine new starters on that side of the ball for its opener, and even though technically Drake wasn’t among them he was one of the three players to represent the Crimson Tide during SEC Media Days in July.

“Kenyan is a huge part of this team,” center Ryan Kelly said. “If you were at the Ole Miss game, and you see him doing sprints, running and cutting, and all those things in the springtime and it’s just amazing. I think it shows you the kind of man Kenyan is and the kind of guy he’s become.”

Yes, there was something different about Drake in 2015, which is pretty normal for any senior, but there’s no way to go through an experience like his and not be changed as a person. The Alabama coaches and medical/training staffs were all cautious with him physically, just in case, and the extensive rehab arguably made him stronger than ever.

The sense of perspective, though, that was life-altering.

“There was nothing for me to do but grow, physically and mentally,” Drake said. “Other people have told me that they’ve seen it.”

One thing that may be surprising to some was that Drake never had a problem watching the play during which he got hurt. If the visual part of it wasn’t unsettling enough, the sound of him screaming in pain made the entire experience nothing short of horrific.

Yet shortly after it happened Drake asked to relive it all, even the part when his leg and foot were sticking out in odd directions.

“I’m completely comfortable with it,” he said. “I actually wanted to see it. I heard it was pretty crazy. I know they didn’t show it on the scoreboard so I wanted to see how loud I was screaming on national TV.”

It made one wonder what Drake might shy away from, but on the field there wasn’t much he didn’t do for the Crimson Tide. In addition to being the speed option out of the backfield, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin sort of used him like he did Reggie Bush at Southern California, lining No. 17 all over including at wide receiver.

“I really pride myself on being versatile,” Drake said. “I have the ability to play running back, to play receiver, be in the backfield, or line up outside. I try to give coaches the ability to put myself in a position to really help my team out in any way I can.

“With that being said, I always look forward to anything Coach Kiffin comes up with. He’s a mastermind of play calling and puts his players in the best position to be successful so with that I would want to make sure that I can be trustworthy so he can put me in the best position for our team.”

One of the wrinkles that Wisconsin discovered was the way Alabama put Drake into motion, which with his speed teammate Denzel Devall compared to tracking a “little jackrabbit.” Even a perfectly-timed pre-snap step or two could be disruptive and move a defender out of position, like what occurred on one of Derrick Henry’s long touchdown runs against the Badgers. 

 “You can spread him out, put him in the backfield, throw him a little slant and if that first guy misses he might go all the way,” linebacker Reggie Ragland said.  

A perfect example was the first snap against Florida in 2014 as Alabama had noticed in certain situations the Gators almost always put a linebacker on a running back when he shifted out wide. If the defender played off him Kiffin wanted a slant pass, but if he moved up the call was a slant-and-go because there was probably no way the linebacker could keep up with Drake.

When Antonio Morrison gave Drake a 10-yard cushion quarterback Blake Sims couldn’t get the ball out fast enough. The result was an 87-yard touchdown that let the Gators know they were in for a long day.

“It obviously worked to perfection,” Drake said.

What he ended up being best known for at Alabama wasn’t an offensive play, though, but a play on special teams. During the 2015 national title game, his 95-yard kick return for a touchdown was crucial in the 45-40 win.

It also landed him on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

See Also: The Saban 250: No.101-110 Features a Bo, a Boss, and Title-Winning Quarterback

Next up: No. 81-90

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Christopher Walsh


Christopher Walsh is the founder and publisher of BamaCentral, which first published in 2018. He's covered the Crimson Tide since 2004, and is the author of 26 books including Decade of Dominance, 100 Things Crimson Tide Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Nick Saban vs. College Football, and Bama Dynasty: The Crimson Tide's Road to College Football Immortality. He's an eight-time honoree of Football Writers Association of America awards and three-time winner of the Herby Kirby Memorial Award, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s highest writing honor for story of the year. In 2022, he was named one of the 50 Legends of the ASWA. Previous beats include the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Originally from Minnesota and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he currently resides in Tuscaloosa.