2018 Rookie Class: An Early Look at Bo Scarbrough

Justin Bales

Editor’s note: ahead of a huge day of college football action, make sure you check out today’s early Bowl Game Previews, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl Previews, and all of our 2018 Rookie Profiles. Before you know it, it will be NFL draft day!


Bo Scarbrough began his season as the fourth running back on the Alabama depth chart, playing behind Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, and Damien Harris. He only carried the ball 18 times in 2015, recording 104 yards and one touchdown.

Scarbrough entered another rotation at running back in 2016, but his role was more prominent. He split carries with Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs, while Alabama’s quarterback, Jalen Hurts, led the team in carries. Scarbrough totaled 812 yards and 11 touchdowns on 125 carries, recording a dominant 6.5 yards per carry and 8.8% touchdown rate. He also recorded four receptions for 22 yards on only five targets.

Some analysts speculated that Scarbrough would take over as the leading rusher this season, but that was not the case. Jalen Hurts led the team again, while Scarbrough was stuck in a timeshare with Damien Harris. Najee Harris and Josh Jacobs also vultured touches throughout the season.

Scarbrough ended the season with 108 carries for 549 yards and eight touchdowns. His efficiency dropped a bit this season, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and a 7.4% touchdown rate. Scarbrough was utilized more in the passing game, though, ranking second on the team in catches with 14. He was able to turn those receptions into 92 yards, but failed to find the end zone.


Scarbrough was an elite recruit in 2014, ranking as the second best athlete and 16th overall player in the recruiting cycle, according to 247Sports. He was a five-star recruit who received multiple scholarship offers from some of the top teams in the NCAA. It was speculated for quite some time that he was going to stay in his home state and play for Alabama, which ultimately came to fruition when he signed in February of 2014.

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One of the most interesting stories surrounding Scarbrough was his position. It was reported that he did not want to redshirt, but also wanted to play running back. Alabama had a plethora of running back talent, though, and told Scarbrough that the only way he does not receive a redshirt is if he plays linebacker. He still signed as a running back, and would eventually redshirt after suffering an injury early into his collegiate career.


Scarbrough is a mountain of a man, as he is listed at 6’2” and 235 pounds on Alabama’s website. It’s far from a surprise that Alabama wanted to use Scarbrough as a linebacker, as there were people who thought Scarbrough featured the type of body that could immediately play in the NFL at the age of 18. He has only added muscle to that frame, but it would not be surprising if he has essentially maxed out how much muscle he can put onto his frame.

Scarbrough is not simply a power running back, though, as he impressed with his 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle, and vertical jump coming out of high school. He posted a 4.59 40-yard dash in 2014, which would have bested the likes of Kareem Hunt and Samaje Perine last year at the combine.

The ‘Bama back also recorded an elite 4.09 20-yard shuttle, which would have beaten every running back that ran at the Combine last season by 0.09 seconds. He also posted a 31” vertical, which ranked better than Dalvin Cook, Jamaal Williams, and Leonard Fournette at the combine. Scarbrough has the size and measurables to make NFL teams drool during the process.


Scarbrough has fallen victim of the running back by committee throughout his career, which has caused his value to drop. He has also fallen victim to a deep draft class with loads of production. He is the type of player who could fly up draft boards if his limited film looks good because GMs, coaches, and scouts will fall in love with his size and potential. Still, he is currently being viewed as a third- to fifth-round pick at the moment. His combine results could be one of the biggest stories heading up to the NFL Draft.


Scarbrough is one of the most physically gifted runners in this draft. He has a combination of size, speed, and quickness that simply is not found very often in running backs. Power should be the featured trait from a player of his size, but his quickness is what stands out on tape. He has struggles at times with his power, as arm tackles occasionally bring him down. He has also displayed the ability to break multiple tackles on one run, though, which displays potential for him to become a power runner.

His quickness has been his best trait, though, as he has displayed abilities to utilize hop steps through holes to shy away from would be tacklers. This trait is extremely important, as it compliments his vision extremely well. At times, Scarbrough displays elite vision, finding holes that most running backs would fail to see. With that being said, he also struggles to find open holes at times. It’s these inconsistencies that have held him back as a runner throughout his collegiate career.

Scarbrough’s most underrated trait is likely his catching ability. He only has 18 receptions throughout his career, but he has a high catch rate and has displayed smooth hands in his limited opportunities. He tends to run routes around the line of scrimmage, so the degree of difficulty on his receptions is not very high. His underrated receiving skills and willingness to pass block could help him become a three-down back in the NFL, though.


The biggest concern with Scarbrough is his inconsistencies. He has flashed every trait it takes to be a success, even dominant, NFL runner, but he has not displayed any on a consistent basis. The most inconsistent concerns focus around his vision and power, which both can be questioned heavily at times on film.

The other major concern with Scarbrough is his inability to play himself out of a committee. Alabama features a plethora of depth at running back, but they have proven in the past that they are not afraid to feature a workhorse running back. Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon, Trent Richardson, and Mark Ingram were all workhorse running backs who forced other elite talents to wait in the wings, while Scarbrough could not shake the committee, nor become the leader of any committee Alabama featured.


While his limited role is a bit of a concern, it also has positives. Scarbrough will not have the wear and tear that other running backs entering this draft have, although he does come with efficient production. He has a higher career yards per attempt and touchdown rate than Saquon Barkley, making it fair to wonder if Alabama simply missed the mark on Scarbrough’s usage based on the talent of their other running backs.

Keep in mind, I’m not saying Scarbrough is a better running back than Barkley. I’m simply arguing that Alabama’s inability to use Scarbrough in a workhorse way might not be because of his talents. He has quite a long way to go to be a top fantasy option in the NFL, but there is a reason he produces at a high rate and was one of the best players in the nation coming out of high school. He has all of the tools to be an elite player – he just needs to put them together.