Bo Scarbrough on the move (Photo by Stuart McNair)

Can Alabama quarterback or running back be a Heisman candidate?

First of a two-part series on the individual award possibilities for Alabama players

Now that all the individual football awards for 2016 have been presented — Jonathan Allen picking up the Lombardi Award over the weekend — we can review the outstanding achievements of last year’s team and look ahead to possible awards candidates for 2017.
It would be unreasonable to expect any Alabama player (or any college player anywhere) to have the year that Allen had at defensive end. Coming back for his senior season resulted in him picking up not only the Lombardi Award given to the nation’s best lineman either on offense or defense, but also the Bronco Nagurski and Bednarik trophies for the nation’s best defensive player and the Hendricks Award as the nation’s best defensive end.
Additionally in 2016, Reuben Foster was winner of the Butkus Award as the nation’s best linebacker and left tackle Cam Robinson picked up the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.
None of those will be repeating, all off to likely first round draft picks in the NFL.
Other stars of the 2016 team also are gone, including All-America selections tight end O.J. Howard, linebacker Tim Williams, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey and All-Southeastern Conference performers linebacker Ryan Anderson and wide receiver ArDarius Stewart.
But very good players return, including All-America selections Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety and punter JK Scott, SEC Offensive Player of the Year quarterback Jalen Hurts, and All-SEC offensive linemen Ross Pierschbacher and Jonah Williams.
Where might Alabama have reasonable candidates for individual honors in 2017?
In this first of a two-part series we look at the top individual awards for college players.
It starts with the Heisman Trophy, the most recognized individual award in sports. Last year Alabama had two men who were in the conversation, Hurts and Allen.
Since 2009, Alabama has had two Heisman winners, running backs Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015).
Although Hurts did not have a good passing game in the Crimson Tide’s 31-35 loss to Clemson in the national championship game, he did lead Bama to a 14-1 record and the SEC Championship,and had Alabama’s defense been able to hold Clemson in the final two minutes Hurts would have been celebrated for his 30-yard touchdown run that gave the Tide the lead going to those final two minutes.
For the year. Hurts completed 240 of 382 passes (62.8 per cent) for 2,780 yards and 23 touchdowns.
Hurts won the Alabama starting job as a freshman, but before there can be talk of a Heisman in his sophomore year, he first has to keep his job. Many expect him to have a fight on his hands owing to the arrival of another freshman hotshot, Tua Tagovailoa, who has entered The University for spring practice (as has QB Mac Jones).
With Alabama having had two tailbacks win the award, we could look to junior Bo Scarbrough as a possibility, though Scarbrough, too, will have to be Bama’s number one tailback to be in the running. Although the upcoming junior ended up last year as Alabama’s third-leading rusher, he was certainly the top tailback at the end of the year.
Scarbrough, however, is coming back from injury, a broken leg suffered in the national championship game. Additionally, junior Damien Harris — who was No. 1 most of the season — finished with 146 carries for 1,037 yards and 7.1 yards per carry. Scarbrough had 125 carries for 812 yards (6.5 per carry). In between was Hurts with 191 runs for 954 yards (5.0 per carry).
The race will also include soph Josh Jacobs (85-567 in 2016) and incoming Najee Harris, the nation’s number one prospect. Harris is coming off surgery, but is an early enrollee eligible to participate in spring practice.
It’s not to say that only quarterbacks and tailbacks will win the Heisman — and also the Maxwell Award given to the nation’s top player — but that’s usually the case. Henry in 2015 and quarterback AJ Mccarran in 2011 have been Alabama players winning the Maxwell.
Quarterbacks and tailbacks in the running for the Heisman and Maxwell would also be possibilities to win the awards specific to their positions, the Johnny Unitas and Davey O’Brien awards for quarterback and the Doak Walker Award for running back.
Next: A look at the other position awards and Alabama possibilities to make watch lists and even take home the trophies.


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