Alabama ATH Bo Scarbrough
Alabama turned heads again on national signing day, reeling in the nation's top recruiting class for the fourth straight season.
One of the centerpieces of that class was Bo Scarbrough—a 6'2", 225-pound athlete from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. and originally from just outside Tuscaloosa, Ala. The 4-star prospect was rated as the No. 35 player in the country and sixth best player in the talent-rich state of Florida as a senior.
But where should he play?
He was primarily a running back at Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa as a junior and at IMG as a senior. During his senior season, he rushed for 1,468 yards and 20 touchdowns according to his bio on the Alabama website.
But he's stepping into a situation at Alabama that's not exactly ideal for early playing time.
Rising junior T.J. Yeldon has rushed for 2,343 yards and 26 touchdowns in his first two seasons at Alabama and will enter the 2014 season as the favorite for the starting running back job. His job is in jeopardy because there's a small village of top-tier running backs nipping at his heels for carries.
Derrick Henry—a 5-star prospect in the class of 2013—rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the Sugar Bowl, Kenyan Drake rushed for 694 and eight touchdowns last season and Altee Tenpenny, Dee Hart and Tyren Jones were all highly touted running backs coming out of high school.
Competition breeds success, but Scarbrough's versatility may be more useful for the Crimson Tide at another position—something he's comfortable exploring according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com: "I think I bring a lot to the table. I can be a (feature) player for that offense. I can play wide receiver. I can play tight end. I can play running back. As long as it's on the offensive side, I can do it."
He should play wide receiver.
That's nothing against Scarbrough. He can absolutely be a feature running back for the Crimson Tide. But his potential as a receiver is too attractive to ignore.
Amari Cooper will be a junior this season, and DeAndrew White announced in January that he'll return for his senior season. They're the two top targets for whomever wins the quarterback job, and while White's absence in 2015 is certain, Cooper's could be likely if he shines as a junior.
That leaves playing time available for Scarbrough either as a true sophomore or a redshirt freshman. And if he and the Alabama coaching staff are wise, Scarbrough will take it.
Alabama's got plenty of wide receivers waiting in the wings too, including former hot-shot recruits Chris Black and Robert Foster.
But can you imagine offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin mixing and matching Scarbrough with tight end O.J. Howard, along with those guys, against defensive backs and safeties who are already at a matchup disadvantage against big-bodied receivers?
That would allow the Alabama offense to be creative and difficult to diagnose, which is exactly the reason Kiffin was brought into Tuscaloosa to begin with. Scarbrough can still be used to disguise plays before the snap and shift from wide receiver to running back, allowing Kiffin flexibility in how he's used.
Scarbrough has tremendous hands, runs like a deer and if he can develop his route-running a bit, he should evolve into a top-tier SEC wide receiver before he departs Tuscaloosa.
Wherever he ends up, though, he's going to be a star.
The decision for the Alabama staff on where to play him is like deciding between filet mignon and rib eye at a nice steakhouse. They can't really go wrong no matter what they choose.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.