Former teammates square off when Arkansas hosts Alabama

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2022
Arkansas defensive end Jordan Domineck celebrates a sack during a game against Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Fayetteville.
( Charlie Kaijo)
Arkansas defensive end Jordan Domineck celebrates a sack during a game against Missouri State on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Jordan Domineck and Jahmyr Gibbs were good players for bad Georgia Tech teams.

Now Domineck and Gibbs are prospering as SEC newcomers.

The former teammates will face each other today when Domineck’s No. 20 University of Arkansas Razorbacks play Gibbs’ No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide at 2:30 p.m. at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Domineck, a fifth-year senior defensive end, has 4.5 sacks to tie for No. 5 nationally and 13 tackles overall.

Gibbs, a junior running back, is Alabama’s leading receiver with 17 catches for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns and has 25 carries for 172 yards.

“I’ve just got to say, God has a plan, and that plan has worked out for both of us,” Domineck said. “I’m happy for both of us that we’re able to go to someplace where we can truly make an impact.

“And I just can’t wait to see what happens Saturday when we play each other.”

Domineck and Gibbs escaped an ugly situation at Georgia Tech, which on Monday fired Coach Geoff Collins and Athletic Director Todd Stansbury.

Collins, who had been the coach at Temple and defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and Florida, had a 10-28 record with the Yellow Jackets in his fourth season.

Georgia Tech never won more than three games in the seasons Domineck and Gibbs played, though the team’s lack of success wasn’t because of them.

Domineck had 103 tackles — including 17 for lost yards and 9 sacks — in 31 games for the Yellow Jackets.

In 18 games at Georgia Tech, Gibbs rushed 232 times for 1,206 yards and 8 touchdowns and had 59 receptions for 768 yards and 5 touchdowns.

“I have the utmost respect for Coach Collins and Todd Stansbury,” Domineck said. “He’s a good coach, it just didn’t work out at Georgia Tech.

“Hopefully he gets another coaching job soon and he’s able to prove to people he knows what he’s doing. He can coach.

“Todd Stansbury was a great AD. I know he’s going to get another opportunity.

“Honestly, I’m just happy to be at Arkansas. Whatever is happening over at Georgia Tech, it doesn’t really affect me too much now.

“Yeah, it’s sad to see my friends and my old teammates not being able to prosper the way they want, but I know in the end, Coach Brent Key, the new interim head coach, he’s going to lead them boys in the right direction.”

When Domineck, from Lakeland, Fla., entered the transfer portal his offers in addition to Arkansas included Auburn, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa State, Nebraska, Kansas and Central Florida.

“There wasn’t a problem at Georgia Tech where he’s going, ‘I don’t like the coach’ or ‘I don’t like practice,’ ” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said. “It was about, ‘Look I’ve got an opportunity to go to the SEC. I’d like to see if I’m good enough to play in the SEC.’ ”

Domineck has helped the Razorbacks lead the nation in sacks with 20, led by Alabama transfer linebacker Drew Sanders with 5.5.

“Arkansas has got four or five guys that can really rush, and [Domineck] is one of them,” Tide Coach Nick Saban said. “They’ve got a really good scheme, too.

“It’s going to be a real challenge for us, and [Domineck’s] going to be a challenge for us as well.”

In Arkansas’ 31-24 victory over Cincinnati in the season opener, Domineck had a sack on which he forced and recovered a fumble. The play helped him be named SEC co-Defensive Lineman of the Week.

“JD has really done a nice job for us,” Pittman said. “We went out to get him. A big part of it was for his pass rush ability.

“He certainly hasn’t disappointed as a man, as a player. He hasn’t disappointed us one bit. We’re awful lucky that we got him.”

Gibbs spoke with reporters in August about his decision to transfer to Alabama.

“I think it was the best opportunity for me to better myself,” Gibbs said. “No knock on my old teammates. I love them, still talk to them every day, they’re a great group of guys. But I made the best decision for me.”

Pittman said he and Arkansas running backs coach Jimmy Smith tried to recruit Gibbs out of Dalton (Ga.) High School.

“That’s one of the first places I went with Jimmy Smith,” Pittman said. “He was committed to Georgia Tech, and we obviously went in there to talk to him. He didn’t really want to talk to us very long. I respected that.

“He is a wonderful back out of the backfield. He can run an option route or angle route as good as anybody in the country. Catches the ball extremely well. He’s going to hurt you with the ball in his hands. Just an outstanding player and has been for a long time.”

Saban said Gibbs quickly adapted to Alabama’s offense.

“Jahmyr’s a really bright guy, and he’s very conscientious,” Saban said. “So it was kind of an easy transition, I think, for us, and it didn’t seem to be very painful for him.

“And I think our players did a good job of embracing him. He’s a very likable guy. So it worked out well.”

Domineck said he and Gibbs had good competition at Georgia Tech.

“It was a great battle every day in practice,” Domineck said. “He would show me some moves that honestly I had never seen before and I’d show moves to him that he’d never seen from a defensive lineman.

“So it was always a great battle. Iron sharpens iron.

“Now that we get to play each other, I’m just excited for the battle to see how far we both have grown in this past year.”


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