SEC Country is breaking down each Alabama position group from Feb. 29 to March 7 as the Crimson Tide prepare for spring football.
Tuesday’s breakdown features Alabama’s 2016 running backs.
Notable departures: Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake
Get to know: Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, Derrick Gore, Ronnie Clark
Analysis: No program in the country has matched Alabama’s string of starting running backs since Saban arrived in 2007. Working backwards, the Tide have fielded Derrick Henry (Heisman Trophy), T.J. Yeldon (All-SEC), Eddie Lacy (All-SEC), Trent Richardson (Heisman finalist), Mark Ingram (Heisman Trophy) and Glen Coffee (All-SEC) in the past nine years.
You’d be a fool to bet against the Crimson Tide’s next projected starter, Bo Scarbrough.
The five-star sophomore from Tuscaloosa County High School was one of the nation’s highest-rated prep players before enrolling at Alabama in January 2015. He saw limited action behind Henry and Drake, but showed enough to his older teammates to warrant serious hype.
“If Bo wants to do it, I think Bo has a chance to be like Derrick Henry, and that’s winning the Heisman and everything,” tight end O.J. Howard told BamaOnline.com‘s Charlie Potter in December. “And I think Bo will. I think Bo will figure it out.”
Already built like an NFL back, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Scarbrough has the ability to plow through defenders or use his surprising speed to race around them. An iffy right knee (he tore an ACL last spring) is perhaps the only potential roadblock.
Harris, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound sophomore, will provide the primary competition in spring camp.
The best running back in the Class of 2015 got more playing time than Scarbrough last season, racking up 170 total yards and a touchdown while pitching in on kick returns. It’s widely speculated that Scarbrough and Harris will work as a tandem in 2016, much like Henry and Drake did this past season.
Clark is a flexible athlete who is more likely to contribute at defensive back, while Gore is a junior-college transfer who carried the ball six times last season and contributed on special teams coverage.
Saban also signed a pair of freshmen — 4-star B.J. Emmons and 3-star Joshua Jacobs — last month to provide depth behind his already-young core.
Key question: Can Harris actually outperform Scarbrough in spring camp?
Bottom line: Based on Saban’s history with running backs, whoever wins the starting job is destined to be one of the conference’s — if not one of the nation’s — best players.
Wednesday preview: Wide receivers