It seems as though every year fans of programs get so enamored with whoever is new that recruits who fail to make a significant initial impact are often written off or simply forgotten.

For the crème de la crème of college football, the Alabama Crimson Tide, every recruiting cycle brings about a ton of attention as the Tide virtually hauls in the top class with potential impact players all over offensive and defensive formations.

This season was no different; recruits like Damien Harris, Calvin Ridley and Kendall Sheffield will be called upon to star like others have before them — most notably Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons), Trent Richardson (Indianapolis Colts) and Amari Cooper.

But sometimes the rigors of college life and the uptick in competition causes some players to adjust a tad slower. And sometimes the education factor becomes a major proponent in separating the have and the have nots.

For former 5-star recruit Bo Scarbrough, who was rated the 16th-ranked prospect in the nation (according to the fine folks at 247sports), the chance to follow in the footsteps of the aforementioned impactful freshmen went by the wayside when he was declared academically ineligible shortly before the start of last season.

But in deferring his debut, albeit not the way one would want, Scarbrough potentially has more of a chance to make an impact on a Tide team devoid of established talent on the offensive side of the ball.

In fact, if the Tide play it right, Scarbrough should make an impact in a plethora of roles, because this kid is just that special.

How Scarbrough Fits In The Tide’s Backfield

Let’s face it; any running back that pops up on the Tide’s radar, specifically during head coach Nick Saban’s tenure, has to be someone downright special. When you can boast having the likes of Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints), Eddie Lacy (Green Bay Packers), T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry in your program — in addition to aforementioned Richardson — you pretty much own the title of “Running Back University,” at least as it pertains to the past five or so years.

Alabama currently employs a multiplicative, rhythm-and-timing-based, West Coast offensive structure predicated on dictating to the defense through the run game, in theory.

Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin seemed to abandon his own philosophy in his first season in Tuscaloosa bringing more of a spread-to-pass scheme, at times. But he did find ways to dominate the edge-bending run game with the 6’3″, 241-pound Henry, who excels navigating zone concepts: outside-stretch, misdirection & organic cut-back runs.

But anyone with knowledge of the situation will tell you that despite his size, Henry is a pretty much a “swolled up” scatback. That’s not a knock on the kid; it’s merely shedding light on his dynamic, speed-based style.

Drake is an actual scatback who may be the most dynamic runner in the country. His short-area agility is unreal, and he has speed to burn.

And with the surprising departure of Altee Tenpenny, the power-based run game will have to be derived from totes by highly touted, 5’10”, 205-pound freshman Damien Harris (click here for my breakdown on Harris).

On skill-set alone, Scarbrough may be every bit as physical as Harris, and his size — 6’2″, 235 pounds — lends itself to him being able to get the tough yards in short-yardage situations.


Here we see Scarbrough generate some yards of the extreme physical variety.

But let’s not make Scarbrough out to be some big stiff; he runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and is a threat to break an explosive play any time he touches the ball. He has excellent vision and the ability to marry his feet to his eyes.

And he has an absolute nasty stiff-arm!

Being that he’s already gone through bowl practice, and will have a full spring lineup, he may have the upper-hand on procuring a spot in the normal running back rotation. And when you factor in the talented Tyren Jones’ off-field trouble, we could very well see a rotation of Henry, Drake and Scarbrough.

Now that’s scary.


I’ve been asked by plenty of Tide fans as to where I think Scarbrough could make the most impact for the duration of his career, and receiver is the answer I usually provide.

Every time I watch film on him, he reminds me of a young Terrell Owens in the open field. He is a long-strider who covers ground quickly; he can’t be tackled by the initial defender, especially if that defender happens to be a defensive back.

While Scarbrough’s route-running prowess needs refinement, he’s a perfect candidate to replace Cooper as college football’s greatest quick game receiver, especially when it comes to “smoke” and “tunnel” screens.


Here we see Cooper catching what seems like one of a thousand screen passes (just last season). His ability to turn something from the quick game into an explosive play was unbelievable.


Getting the ball to Scarbrough on screens (like in the above sequence), reverses, slants, hitches, pivots and 9’s would drive defensive coordinators absolutely crazy with his ability to break tackles.


Check out his ability to high-point the ball in the above sequence from an inside receiver position; can you imagine a 235-pound version of former Florida Gators’ versatile star Percy Harvin?

Scarbrough is that guy.


The idea of deploying Scarbrough in a similar manner to former jack-of-all-trades back Jalston Fowler came to me while watching the departing senior perform at the Senior Bowl.

Analysts gushed about Fowlers’ prospects for the next level potentially superseding his college career, and I wholeheartedly agree.

The NFL is in need of a guy who can be a lead-blocker, but also fill in at tailback in a pinch — similar to what former Tide running back, and noted NFL fullback, Le’Ron McClain did for the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 season when he gained 902 yards splitting totes with Willis McGahee.

But what if McClain could also play a hybrid tight end role, matching up against linebackers who would have very little chance at containing him? He can’t; Fowler certainly can as he did in “12” and “22 personnel” groupings for the Tide.

Scarbrough’s size is not too far off from another fellow freak athlete, the 6’6″, 240-pound tight end O.J. Howard. Having both Howard and Scarbrough in a two-tight set brings about options that would make Kiffin breakout into song and dance.


Here’s a sequence where we see Fowler, No. 45, lined up exactly where Scarbrough would strike fear into an opponent. If you can imagine Howard lined up where No. 84 is, you can plainly see where a naked bootleg would give a QB plenty of explosive pass options out of a formation that forces the defense into base personnel.

Football has become a game of match-ups and Bama is about to unearth a major chess piece in Scarbrough.

Look out, SEC…