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Alabama Football—Battle for third-string running back

Alabama football has suffered its first suspension, and we haven’t hit deep into the offseason. Rising redshirt sophomore running back Tyren Jones was suspended indefinitely Tuesday for “conduct not suiting the standards of Alabama football,” Crimson Tide’s head coach Nick Saban said in a statement from UA’s media relations.

Jones, a former four-star prospect, is a native of Marietta, Ga. His elusiveness and toughness were a pleasant surprise for Alabama fans in 2014. Jones totaled 224 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries as a reserve. Tuesday’s incident wasn’t the first time Jones has been featured in Saban’s “dog house.” He was dismissed from practice during a week in the fall (Oct. 28, 2014) for disciplinary reasons.

Jones’s lack of judgment opens the door for Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris and Desherrius Flowers to earn playing time as a third running back in Alabama’s rotation.

Scarbrough, who stands at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, is a product of two areas, Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He was regarded as a five-star prospect by Rivals.com, but academics kept Scarbrough from immediately being involved on campus.

He was finally seen at Hank Crisp’s Indoor Facility in December 2014, participating in Alabama’s Sugar Bowl preparations. Scarbrough was listed as an athlete, but possesses the capabilities to be a productive running back. He totaled 1,332 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 12.3 yards per carry in his career.

Harris, weighing in at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds, is a five-star prospect from Berea, Ky. He was a household name at Madison Southern High School, totaling 6,717 yards and 111 touchdowns in his career. Harris shined at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game, posting 122 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

He has speed, vision and power, but Harris’s patience in the hole is a rare trait for running backs. Harris’s ability to allow the blocks to set up and use his cutbacks wisely will help him become special at Alabama.

Flowers is a commit that isn’t involved in a lot of conversations. He hails from Mobile, Ala., and was clocked at a 4.50 in the 40-yard at Vigor High School. Flowers is a four-star recruit that recorded 1,100 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2013. He registered 922 yards and 11 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2012.

Flowers participated in the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Flowers has size (6-1/210), speed and vision, but with Scarbrough already immersed in team chemistry, it will be interesting to see how much will Flowers push for a third string role.

Ronnie Clark entered Alabama in 2014 as a defensive back, but was transitioned to running back due to injuries. Clark, at 6’3” and 215 pounds, put Calera High School on the map. He totaled 65 touchdowns and collected 1,300 yards as a quarterback, running back and wide receiver. Clark suffered an Achilles injury in 2014, but he will be ready to emerge next season.

Rising senior Kenyan Drake knows what Jones is going through. Drake’s had his moments in being on a short leash with Saban. 2014 witnessed Drake be explosive and team-oriented, until a leg injury against Mississippi. Jones’s spot is up for grabs, and until he returns, Scarbrough, Harris, Flowers and Clark will battle for it.

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