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Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough ‘to carry team on his back’ next season

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

His surge began last season at Neyland Stadium versus Tennessee, but the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta against Washington served as his coming out party. The college football world saw an unstoppable force out of Tuscaloosa cement his name in being the next superstar running back under the tutelage of Burton Burns, and as of this fall, he’s returning for more dominance.

Bo Scarbrough was already larger than life, size wise.

From Northridge High School to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., he physically destroyed opposition – to the tune of earning a consensus five-star rating and garnering attention as one of the nation’s elite running backs.

After rehabbing a serious knee injury from high school and serving a four-game suspension (2015), the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder put his brand of power, speed, vision and overall leadership on display through 13 games a season ago. He scratched out two starts in meetings against Tennessee and Clemson, while totaling 812 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns on 125 carries. Reminiscent of his predecessor, Derrick Henry, Scarbrough put the masses on notice with a beastly performance versus Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough on stage with Nick Saban and LB Ryan Anderson after Tide’s 24-7 win over Washington in the Peach Bowl: Photo via Cedric Mason – Touchdown Alabama Magazine

As much as it was unfair for the Huskies to tackle a freight train with breakaway speed, it was as equally exciting and eye-popping for reporters inside the Georgia Dome to document an output from someone of whom Crimson Tide fans had been waiting to emerge. Upon the end of a 24-7 finish, a smile appeared on Scarbrough’s face as stood on the podium with head coach Nick Saban to receive the Offensive Most Valuable Player of the Game. He concluded with an Alabama bowl record of 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, including a 68-yard run that defied description and put the game out of reach in the second half.

Despite falling to Clemson in the CFP National Championship and sustaining a broken leg, Scarbrough captivated fans on his 93-yard rushing performance and two scores on 16 carries. Although the Tide returns a multitude of players on offense, including Jalen Hurts, Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs, Calvin Ridley and Robert Foster, Johnny Jackson of Jackson-Duffy Performance Institute singled out Scarbrough as Alabama’s most important asset.

“I don’t think people recognized how big a leader Bo actually is,” Jackson said to yours truly of Touchdown Alabama Magazine on Thursday. “Athletically, he has God given talent and we know this, but next season he takes on more of a leadership role.”

Bo Scarbrough || Scariest Running Back in College Football || 2016-17 Alabama Highlights

Jackson, who earned his degree in exercise science from Alabama, was one of multiple strength and conditioning interns on Saban’s coaching staff in 2008 and 2009; the year the Tide captured its first BCS national championship. He’s been an integral part of Scarbrough’s life and athletic career since high school.

“With next year’s team being a young group, the offense will run through Scarbrough,” Jackson said. “I think he’s going to put the team on his back because he carries an it factor of people wanting to follow him. He’s always perfecting his craft and he’ll be a big part of UA’s success.”

As a trainer and life coach for college athletes, professional athletes and today’s youth, Jackson carries a bigger smile when he sees people be more of a blessing outside the sport than in it.

“What I love the most about Bo Scarbrough is his humility,” he said.

“He knows he’s a superstar, but he’s not a prima donna. He’s very mannerable and every time that I see him the gym, he’s always shaking everyone hand and taking photos with our kids. He’s just a really good person.”

To recapture Derrick Henry from his final season in 2015, what made him resonate with fans as well as college football media was his ability to make everyone around him better. Scarbrough, a junior, carries this same trait in spaces according to Jackson.

“He makes everyone feel welcome,” Jackson said.

“People can expect for Bo Scarbrough to be the voice in the locker room next season and a positive voice off the field. That man will be successful in what ever he does in life because he knows that life is bigger than him.”

The moment I realized that Scarbrough had arrived as a player came from the 15 minutes I spent with offensive lineman and fellow Tuscaloosa native, Lester Cotton following the Peach Bowl.

“Tonight I saw the old Bo. The Bo from Northridge,” Cotton said in tears. “That’s the Bo I saw and that’s the guy we needed tonight. Bo played a huge role in the offense. We struggled to things going at first, but when Bo got the ball, they [Washington] were afraid to tackle him.”

When the stages and opposition got bigger down the stretch of 2016, Saban and company decided to go with Scarbrough over Damien Harris. Six backs will be on the roster when the Tide starts fall camp in August, but for now, it appears as though Scarbrough may get the nod as the starter.

Stephen M. Smith is a managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 15 years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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