Editor’s note: Alabama football returns a ton of talent, and has a great opportunity to make another run at the SEC championship and earn a College Football Playoff berth.
SEC Country will take a look at Alabama’s 25 most important players. Obviously, there will be coaches and other key members around the program who will have a big impact on the team’s success. But this list is strictly for the top-25 players for the Crimson Tide heading into 2017.
No. 2: The running backs
Surely you’re reading this and thinking, “How can multiple players be put into one spot?” It’s tough to separate Alabama football’s running backs because the group truly needs each other.
There is no Derrick Henry in this bunch who could potentially carry the ball 40 times per game.
That’s why you’ll likely see more of a balanced rushing attack and a rotation given how many talented rushers Alabama has. Look for the running backs to catch the ball out of the backfield more as well.
Bo Scarbrough is the closest thing Alabama has to Henry from a physical standpoint, but his health is an issue. Scarbrough has dealt with major injuries throughout his career dating to high school.
That’s why you can’t look at him as a feature running back. He has yet to carry the ball more than 20 times in a game to this point in his career. Scarbrough finished last year with 812 yards and 11 touchdowns. His injury in the national championship game against Clemson completed changed Alabama’s offense. For whatever reason, Alabama’s coaching staff did not give the ball to its other running backs down the stretch once Scarbrough went down.
Don’t be surprised if Damien Harris is the starter again this season. Harris is consistent, he blocks well and he does all the little things Alabama likes in a running back. Harris is Alabama’s lone 1,000-yard rusher from a season ago. He rushed for 1,040 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Freshmen Najee Harris or Brian Robinson could develop into feature running backs at some point in their careers, but they aren’t there yet.
Then there’s the curious case of what Alabama will do with Josh Jacobs and B.J. Emmons. Jacobs seems to make plays every time he touches the ball. He’s elusive and catches the ball exceptionally well out of the backfield. As for Emmons, he dealt with injuries during his freshman season and during this past spring. If healthy, Emmons has the tools to be a feature back as well.
Alabama has six running backs who all bring something different to the table and need touches. But that’s a good problem to have.
Coming Friday: You know who
SEC Country’s Top 25 Alabama football players:
- No. 3: A versatile defensive back
- No. 4: Run-stuffing defensive lineman
- No. 5: Tide’s next great linebacker
- No. 6: A veteran offensive lineman
- No. 7: A lockdown corner
- No. 8: Tide’s next great offensive lineman
- No. 9: A hard-hitting safety
- No. 10: A key playmaker
- No. 11: A versatile linebacker
- No. 12: A veteran wide receiver
- No. 13: A key special teams player
- No. 14: An elite defensive lineman
- No. 15: A junior college transfer
- No. 16: A powerful offensive lineman
- No. 17: A young player changing positions
- No. 18: An experienced offensive lineman
- No. 19: A new sack artist
- No 20: A powerful linebacker
- No. 21: A young, explosive linebacker
- No. 22: An inexperienced offensive lineman
- No. 23: A veteran safety
- No. 24: Two talented freshmen
- No. 25: Tide hope he’s ‘special’