TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The numbers don’t have much context, but they helped add fuel to the already-wild hype surrounding Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough.
According to statistics provided by Alabama’s media relations staff, Scarbrough carried the ball nine times for 132 yards and three touchdowns in the Crimson Tide’s first spring scrimmage on Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Since his high school days in Tuscaloosa, Alabama fans have clamored for the day when Scarbrough would get meaningful carries in a Crimson Tide uniform. That didn’t change last season, either, when Scarbrough showed flashes in the seven games he played in last year. He rushed for just 104 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, but the legend of Bo continued to grow.
Heading into this season, the starting running back job appears to be Scarbrough’s with the only question being whether can he stay healthy in his quest to replace Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Scarbrough “ran pretty well” in Alabama’s first spring scrimmage on Saturday.
“I think he’s got things that he can improve on. I certainly think he’s capable of doing things that we need him to do,” Saban said. “I think part of it is confidence, knowledge, experience. Having confidence in what he’s supposed to do, how he’s supposed to do it, why it’s important to do it that way. I think when he understands that, he plays fast and he’s very effective. So those are the kinds of things that we can improve on. I like his work ethic, I like his toughness. I think there’s things that we need to improve on, but we’re encouraged by what he’s done to this point.”
Physically, Scarbrough (6-foot-2, 230 pounds) is fresh out of the lab that created Henry (6-3, 242 pounds). But the difference between the two so far has been durability. Henry was able to remain healthy despite carrying the ball 395 times in 2015, the most by any running back in a single season during the Saban era. Scarbrough has battled injuries dating to his high school days. Last spring, he suffered a knee injury that slowed his development and limited his role on the team. If Scarbrough can remain healthy, he could be a bellcow for the Tide. In limited action, he appeared to have good footwork and is big enough to run over defenders.