Runners galore: Bama group led by Scarbrough, Damien Harris
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Damien Harris doesn’t believe Alabama’s tailbacks will be bickering over carries, or lack of them.
Bo Scarbrough said they’ll remain supportive of each other, even down to getting water for a fellow back.
Based on the end of the last season , Scarbrough appears likely to start out as the featured back for the Crimson Tide this season but there’s plenty of strong options to take handoffs.
“That whole, ‘I want the carries’ mentality, that really doesn’t exist among us,” said Harris, last year’s leading rusher.
Running backs coach Burton Burns has deftly juggled NFL-bound tailback tandems and even trios over his decade-long tenure in Tuscaloosa. It’s always worked out just fine in the end with six tailbacks getting drafted in the first three rounds since 2011.
The big exception to the tandem system came in 2015 when Derrick Henry carried most of the workload en route to the Heisman Trophy.
This group could provide quite the juggling act for Burns, and it may be a fluid situation depending on the hot hand or a young back’s progression.
“Running back is a position that you can’t have too many of,” new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll said. “You can find creative ways to try to use them, and everyone will have a role if they earn that role.”
Harris, Scarbrough and freshman Najee Harris — a Top-5 overall prospect — are all former five-star recruits. Josh Jacobs wasn’t as highly rated out of high school but was successful when he got chances as a freshman.
B.J. Emmons, rated by two recruiting services as the nation’s top running back in 2016, has already transferred to a junior college.
Scarbrough is a preseason second-team All-SEC pick despite starting only a pair of games the past two seasons. He and Damien Harris are both preaching unselfishness.
“We try to help the team any way we can,” Scarbrough said. “Help each other any way we can, even if it’s giving each other water, wiping each other’s sweat off. It really doesn’t matter who’s in the game, long as we win the game and we did our job personally.”
Here’s a snapshot look at the Tide’s four top running backs, not even counting quarterback Jalen Hurts (954 rushing yards) and freshman Brian Robinson:
— The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Scarbrough finished with a huge flourish, racking up 364 yards and six touchdowns in Alabama’s final three games.
Scarbrough earned offensive MVP honors with a 180-yard performance in the semifinal game against Washington, including a 68-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He fractured a bone in his lower right leg late in the third quarter of the championship game
—The 5-11, 221-pound Damien Harris gained 1,037 yards and averaged a team-best 7.1 per carry. He only ran for two touchdowns but had 100-yard games against USC, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas A&M. The junior had just 31 carries in the last four games with Scarbrough taking over.
— Jacobs, who is 5-10, 212 pounds, ran for 567 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. He started against Kentucky and produced 100 yards on 16 carries, getting more chances early in the season than Scarbrough.
—The 6-2, 227-pound Najee Harris was rated the No. 3 overall prospect in the 247 Sports composite rankings of the major recruiting sites. His 7,948 career yards is fourth-most in California prep history.
“Everybody’s different, everybody has their own skills that maybe somebody else isn’t as good at,” Damien Harris said. “But that’s what kind of makes us unique is when you have so many different guys that have different things that they can bring to this offense. That’s what makes it scary.”
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