Alabama’s head coach Nick Saban released an injury report on freshman running back Bo Scarbrough Thursday. Saban said Scarbrough is rehabbing well, and he is a little bit ahead of sophomore wide receiver Cam Sims in the recovery process. Alabama isn’t rushing either player back, as Sims and Scarbrough both sustained knee injuries during spring practice.
Junior running back Derrick Henry is set receive a lion’s share of the carries this fall, but he will need help. Kenyan Drake, a senior, will see time in the backfield because of his experience, however, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin looks to use him as a receiver as well.
With Tyren Jones being dismissed from the team back in March, it opens the door for two true freshmen, Damien Harris and Desherrius Flowers.
Flowers, a native of Mobile, Ala., enrolled early in January of 2015. He was a consensus four-star prospect at Vigor High School, totaling 2,021 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons. Flowers participated in the 2015 U.S. Army All-America Bowl, and was listed as the No.10 running back and No.6 player in the state of Alabama, according to ESPN 300.
Flowers had a productive spring. He was featured as the third back in Alabama’s rotation, behind Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry. Flowers and Scarbrough often split reps in practice, until Scarbrough’s injury after the team’s first scrimmage. Flowers, who stands at 6-foot-1, 211 pounds, lacks elite speed, but does have power, vision and patience.
Harris, a native of Berea, Ky., arrived at the University of Alabama on May 25, 2015. He was a consensus five-star recruit at Madison Southern High School, logging 6,717 rushing yards and 111 touchdowns in his career. Harris participated in the 2015 Under Armour All-America game, and put on a show, tallying 122 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Harris has all the physical tools to be successful at Alabama. He’s the one back that could scratch some carries away from Derrick Henry, if he absorbs the system well in summer workouts.
Not having Cam Sims does hurt Alabama a little, but the emergence of Robert Foster and ArDarius Stewart helps. True freshmen Calvin Ridley and Daylon Charlot are both on campus, and redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Black has taken on a leadership role.
A balanced run game is what Alabama desires to have in 2015. It returns Ryan Kelly and Cam Robinson to its offensive line, but coach Mario Cristobal continues to work with this group on finding its identity. The quarterback battle is a toss-up right now between Jake Coker and David Cornwell, but regardless of who wins the job, a consistent run game is imperative for Alabama.
Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon all contributed as freshmen. Damien Harris and Desherrius Flowers don’t have the luxury to sit and watch.
The departures of Tyren Jones, Altee Tenpenny and Alvin Kamara, along with Scarbrough’s injury has forced Harris and Flowers into action. Will both players be ready to contribute in August? Only time will tell. The learning process starts now for Harris and Flowers.
Stephen M. Smith is a staff writer and columnist for Touchdown Alabama Magazine, Pick Six Previews and SB Nation. You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.