This time last year, if one of the top two running backs wore a black, non-contact jersey and the other sustained a sprained his foot in one of the early spring practices, the panic alarm among the Alabama fan base would have been at full volume.
This year? Hardly a peep.
That’s how much changed with the running backs position in a year’s time.
Bo Scarbrough, the bruising yet flashy back, continues his rehabilitation from a broken leg he sustained against Clemson in January. He’s spent the first four practices in that black jersey, but he’s making progress every practice.
Damien Harris suffered a sprained foot in Saturday’s practice, but he also will be fine in time.
Then there are the other four running backs, varying in sizes and skill sets. All talented, all competing.
UA head coach Nick Saban spoke about that depth following Tuesday practice.
“We do have a lot of good running backs,” Saban said. “We went from not having very many to having a whole bunch. I think they’ve all done really, really well.”
That praise is effusive coming from Saban, who always measures his words carefully.
What a difference a year makes
To his point, last season the top two returning backs, Scarbrough and Harris, entered with 64 career carries. This season, every single carry and yard recorded by a scholarship running back in 2016, save for transfer Derrick Gore, returns.
That includes rushes by Scarbrough, Harris, Josh Jacobs, B.J. Emmons and Ronnie Clark, who has since transferred to an h-back role. Throw into that mix the two freshmen Najee Harris and Brian Robinson, and the Crimson Tide is loaded.
Another freshman, Chadarius Townsend, worked at wide receiver the last two practices.
“Najee (Harris) has done a nice job,” Saban said. “Brian Robinson has done a nice job. Damien Harris sprained his foot last Saturday indoors, but he didn’t work today but he’ll probably be back Thursday.
“We have a lot of other young guys — Josh Jacobs has done a good job. We certainly could use the experience. I think it’s a good problem to have.”
What about Bo?
A lot of attention remains on Scarbrough and his recovery.
“Bo is doing more and more every day,” Saban said. “He did quite a bit today in practice, non-contact stuff, but he’s sort of gaining confidence.
“Our goal for Bo is by the end of spring, he’s fully confident that he can do everything he needs to do. Whether he ever scrimmages or not is really something that we’re not that concerned about.”
Reach Aaron Suttles at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0229.