Competition is a word that’s used often during fall football camp around the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide’s running backs could certainly choose to use that word. But Bo Scarbrough prefers a different term.
“I don’t call it competition, I call it creation,” Scarbrough said. “We’re all together as one, we’re on the same team and trying to help each other out, become a better team and person.”
However it’s characterized, the running back position is among Alabama’s deepest. Scarbrough and fellow junior Damien Harris were both key contributors last season. Sophomore Josh Jacobs also has experience. Freshmen Najee Harris and Brian Robinson Jr., a Hillcrest High product, are two highly-regarded freshmen.
They’re working to build on something together. That’s the difference between what others see as competition, but Scarbrough sees as creation.
“I think that a lot of times skill players you’d think they would be cocky because of all the success they have had, but they’re all just workhorses,” sophomore offensive lineman Jonah Williams said. “It’s definitely exciting; no matter who we have back there we’re going to work to be successful.”
Each running back has something he can learn from one of the others, Scarbrough said. Damien Harris was the most productive last season and may be the most well-rounded of the bunch. Scarbrough is the biggest, and took a heftier role late last season. Jacobs showed his shiftiness last season. Najee Harris is bigger than Jacobs, but has also shown that he can be elusive in his first practices at Alabama.
“They can stick their foot in the ground and get up field real quick, and that’s something that I’m kind of taken from their game,” Scarbrough said. “That’s something that we all need to take from each other.”
Scarbrough has also had some time to learn from some former Alabama running backs. Players like Mark Ingram and Glen Coffee still hang around the program from time to time. Scarbrough played with Derrick Henry.
Many of those players were part of teams that were also built on several running backs who worked together. Alabama’s backfields have always been talented, and often been deep. That’s how offensive players view this group.
“It’s exciting because if we do our jobs we know it’s going to be a big play,” Williams said, “and if somebody messes up a little bit, it might still be a big play.”
Scarbrough didn’t want to divulge what specific skills he has been developing in the offseason with the help of his teammates. He did say he wants to sustain his production and be more consistent this year. He missed two games last season, and more than half of his rushing yardage came in the final four games.
Scarbrough and the rest of the backs will try and build on that kind of production. There’s still more that each of them can do.
“I mean, it’s about helping each other out, showing them the ropes and learning from each other,” Scarbrough said. “Even though we’re the oldest guy, there’s something we can take from the younger guys and we can put it into our perspective. That’s how you make creation.”