Alabama Awaits Return Of Bo Scarbrough

The long delay in the appearance of tailback Bo Scarbrough on the field for Alabama seems to be nearing an end. No one is suggesting he will make his debut in this week’s game at Georgia, but it’s possible. Perhaps more important is what he means for the future for the Crimson Tide.

Bo Scarbrough was a local football star at Tuscaloosa Northside before heading to the IMG Academy in Florida where he played for former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke. He signed with Alabama following the 2013 season, but needed a little academic work to be eligible. He finished his prep work at Tuscaloosa County, and entered The University last January.

His participation in Bama’s spring practice seemed to have him on track to be a part of this year’s Crimson Tide – perhaps a big part. But another setback, an ACL injury, made his involvement this season questionable. Throughout the summer there were unofficial reports that Scarbrough was making great progress.

Then in fall camp, Alabama Coach Nick Saban announced that Scarbrough would not be involved for the first month of competition. At the time, Saban said Scarbrough might not be ready because of his rehabilitation, but in any event he would be sitting out a four-game suspension for what was described only as “an NCAA issue.”

It didn’t take long to calculate that Scarbrough would be eligible for what has been anticipated as the biggest game in Southeastern Conference play this season, this week’s Bama at Georgia contest.

Prior to practice Monday, Saban said, “Bo is ready to play. He's been practicing, been cleared medically, his suspension is over. And we'll work hard to try to create a role for him.”

That was not a promise that Scarbrough, a 6-2, 240-pound runner would be with Bama this weekend. Alabama and Georgia play at 3:30 p.m. EDT (2:30 central time) in Athens Saturday. CBS will televise the game.

“It may take some time to get him back in the groove of things but that's certainly the plan,” Saban said.

As a senior playing in Florida, Scarbrough rushed for 1,368 yards and 20 touchdowns in 10 games.

The return of Scarbrough bolsters a position that has talent, but not much depth. Derrick Henry is Bama’s top man at the position. Kenyan Drake is a different type tailback, a man who might be headed for more work as a receiver with the availability of Scarbrough. (Wide receiver is also a depth-poor Bama area.) True freshman Damien Harris has seen spot duty as the third tailback.

And that’s about it.

Alabama players have a high opinion of Scarbrough.

Linebacker Reggie Ragland, who has practiced against the big tailback, said, “Bo is physical and strong and I'm happy to see him out there. He has had a knee brace on, but you really couldn't tell. I'm happy he's back and he's going to open up some things for the offensive side, I hope.”

Henry has been working at tailback with Scarbrough. He said, “Bo is a great player. I don’t know what the game plan is with Bo. I’m sure if he comes in and plays he’ll contribute and do a good job.”

Center Ryan Kelly said, “He can have a huge role. Obviously, injuries always happen, so to have him back there and really show what he can do is huge. Just to give other guys breaks, as well. He’s another asset that we have. We have a lot of assets. We just have to put it all to use.”

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