The fate of whoever is trying to halt Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough is determined three yards before their paths cross.
It depends on how generous the human bowling ball is feeling, but it is certainly an in-the-moment decision: to make contact or avoid it.
“He might get ran over a little bit,” Scarbrough said. “He might get a side-step. You never know.”
The smile that follows is far from innocent. It’s a subtle warning.
This isn’t the old Scarbrough, who was already capable of plowing through defenders. This is the new and improved Scarbrough.
The junior has lost about 15 pounds since the end of last season. He’s listed on the preseason roster at 235 but said he weighs 227 now. He stands at 6-foot-2.
“My body feels more clean,” the junior said. “It feels more stable so I can move the way I want to move, and I’m able to some of the things I couldn’t do.”
It has shown in his game, too.
Scarbrough went the first two games without drawing up any negative yardage. He was tackled at the line of scrimmage only twice. In his third contest, he lost the Crimson Tide two yards, split between two attempts. That’s it.
“Bo always runs hard,” Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts said.
Overall, Scarbrough has totaled 33 carries for 142 yards. He’s the third-leading rusher on the team, just behind Hurts and fellow running back Damien Harris in order.
Scarbrough averages 4.3 yards per carry. He has had only two runs for more than 10 yards, his longest being 17 against Colorado State.
Also against CSU, Scarbrough scored his first touchdown of the season. After the 9-yard run, he waved to the crowd, blatantly showing off a specific feature of his uniform.
“I love the ‘A’ on the glove,” Scarbrough said. “Pretty sweet, huh? The rest of the glove, the ‘A’ half cut off, I just like the way it sits right in the palm.”
Alabama’s coaching staff named Scarbrough a player of the week after his performance, something that didn’t happen until the final games of 2016. The last time he received the honor was against Washington, which was also when Scarbrough debuted his post-touchdown routine.
The main difference between this year and ones prior is how much Alabama utilizes Scarbrough in the passing game. He’s the Crimson Tide’s second-leading receiver with six receptions for 55 yards.
“Everyone knows I can catch the ball since high school days,” the Northport native said. “So it’s great to be back out there to be able to catch the ball.”
Last season, Scarbrough caught the ball only four times. So, he has already seen more action after three games than he did in 13.
The potential was always there, but Scarbrough had a knack for getting injured. He missed two November games and then exited the national championship early with a broken leg.
He has bounced back, though, and feels 100 percent physically.
“Hard work and dedication, right?” Scarbrough said.