Bo Scarbrough applies Alabama lesson to USFL title game

Alabama closed each of Bo Scarbrough’s three seasons with the Crimson Tide by playing in the CFP national championship game. The Birmingham Stallions running back’s first USFL season will end on Sunday in the league title game.

The Stallions take on the Philadelphia Stars at 6:30 pm CDT Sunday at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio. FOX will televise the USFL’s championship contest.

Alabama defeated Clemson 45-40 on Jan. 11, 2016, lost to Clemson 35-31 on Jan. 9, 2017, and defeated Georgia 26-23 in overtime on Jan. 8, 2018, in its CFP national championship appearances during Scarbrough’s college career while compiling a 41-3 record.

Scarbrough said he’s taking the Alabama approach into the USFL championship game.

“We treat this game like it’s a normal game,” Scarbrough said. “It’s no different from another game. We prepared the same way. We got to execute the plays. This isn’t different from any other game. It’s just another game, just on a bigger stage. We just have to go out and execute and play the game the way it needs to be played. …

“At Alabama, if we’re playing against LSU, it’s the same as if we’re playing against Georgia State. We prepared the same way because you can be beat by anybody. You don’t let up because of what’s the record of the team or name of the team. These guys are great. They have a great defense and everyone on the team is good. If no one was good, they wouldn’t be in this championship, so we have to prepare for them the same way how we did any other team. And like I said before, this is just another game. This is no different from the first game. It’s the same. It’s just on a bigger stage, and we have to realize that and not get ahead of ourselves and try to make it as big as it is, which it’s only just another game to be played and won.”

Scarbrough wasn’t with the Stallions when the USFL kicked off its inaugural season in Birmingham on April 16. He joined the team for the fifth game of the season. In six regular-season contests, Scarbrough ran for 352 yards and one touchdown on 84 carries, and he had 39 yards on 11 carries and three receptions for 26 yards in the Stallions’ 31-17 victory over the New Orleans Breakers in last week’s semifinals .

Scarbrough finished 10th in the league in rushing yards despite the late start, but Birmingham coach Skip Holtz said the running back’s contributions extended beyond the football field.

“He has added not just a great player,” Holtz said. “Everybody can watch the play on the field and say, ‘Wow, what a player.’ He brings a different dimension to our backfield. He’s a big, strong, physical runner where both CJ (Marable) and Tony Brooks-James are more scatback types, spread-offense tailbacks. He added some power and some punch to our football team.

“As a person, I think his value and his contribution goes way deeper than just as a player. He comes from a program that’s used to winning. I’ve talked a lot about the three stages a football team goes through: A. You have to learn how to compete. B. You have to learn what it takes to win. But C., you need to learn how to handle winning, and that is the process of what this team has gone through. We have learned how to handle winning, how to wear a bull’s-eye on your chest as the team with the record that we’ve had, where everybody was shooting after us being the home team and at that time being the undefeated team. And I think Bo has just brought a sense of experience, being with coach (Nick) Saban, and I don’t know that there’s a college program that has handled winning better than Alabama or done it on a more consistent basis.

“Bo’s been a leader. He’s been vocal. He is respected amongst his teammates, and even though he got on the rollercoaster halfway down the hill four games into the season, he has quickly endeared himself into the hearts of these football players who I think have great respect for him.”

Scarbrough thinks a lot of his teammates, too.

“This team was put together in a short amount of time, and we didn’t have enough time to actually get to bond with each other,” Scarbrough said. “But this team here, I feel the love, I feel the want to be around, and it’s just so amazing how a group of guys can come together so quick and become attached to each other so fast and want to play for one another. Even though we came from different schools and all that, it’s just like we all have this one mindset and this one goal. I just feel like we’re all together as one. To see us out there playing together, it’s just heartwarming just to be around such a group of guys that actually care about each other and not just individual guys. These guys care about us as a team, and we all have that one goal to win the trophy.”

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Scarbrough was a standout at Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa before spending his senior year at IMG Academy in Florida. In three seasons at Alabama, Scarbrough ran for 1,512 yards and 20 touchdowns on 267 carries and caught 21 passes for 131 yards.

Scarbrough entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft selection of the Dallas Cowboys in 2018. Dallas released Scarbrough when it reduced its preseason roster to the regular-season limit, but then re-signed him for its practice squad. He stayed with the Cowboys until being released on Oct. 9, 2018.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Scarbrough for their practice squad two days later. On Dec. 18, 2018, the Seattle Seahawks signed Scarbrough to their active roster, but he didn’t play in their two regular-season games or playoff contest.

Scarbrough went through the offseason program, training camp and preseason with the Seahawks in 2019, but he didn’t survive the cut to the regular-season roster limit.

Scarbrough joined the Detroit Lions on Nov. 6, 2019, as a member of Detroit’s practice squad.

With former Auburn standout Kerryon Johnson sidelined by a knee injury, Scarbrough made his NFL debut in Detroit’s starting lineup 11 days later. Her ran for 55 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown on his third rushing attempt in a 35-27 loss to the Cowboys. Scarbrough joined Billy Sims, Barry Sanders and Mikel Leshoure as the only Detroit players to run for at least 55 yards and a touchdown in their debuts.

A rib injury that caused Scarbrough to miss a game and Johnson’s return for the final two contests curtailed his opportunities, and he finished with 377 yards and one touchdown on 89 carries for 2019.

Scarbrough started the 2020 season on Detroit’s injured reserve and was released on Oct. 31, 2020, without getting into a game.

Seattle signed Scarbrough to its practice squad 11 days later, and he was elevated to the active roster. But after running for 31 yards on six carries against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 19, 2020, he sustained a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

After being signed as a free agent by the Las Vegas Raiders on Aug. 6, 2021, Scarbrough was released 10 days later.

“I wanted to take him right away when he first got into the draft,” Holtz said. “Unfortunately, you’re sitting in a situation: Can we add a fourth tailback? You only have limited numbers, and it became a number game that I wasn’t able to take him when he first got into the draft. When the league made the announcement that they were going to enlarge the rosters about midseason – I think it was after the fourth game – they enlarged it from 45 to 50, and I said, ‘When will that go into effect?’ And they said it’s effective immediately for the free agents, but we’re going to have to wait till Monday for the draft. And I said, ‘So that goes into effect now?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Then I want to select Bo Scarbrough right now for the Stallions of Birmingham. That’s who we want.’ So we got him off the free-agent wire at that time.”

Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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