Bo Scarbrough applies the Alabama lesson to the USFL title game

Alabama ended each of Bo Scarbrough’s three seasons with the Crimson Tide by participating in the CFP national championship game. The Birmingham Stallions running back’s first USFL season concludes in Sunday’s championship game.

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

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

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

“We’re treating this game like a normal game,” Scarbrough said. “It’s no different from any other game. We have prepared in the same way. We have to do the plays. This is no different from other games. It’s just another game, only on a bigger stage. We just have to go out there and run and play the game the way it needs to be played. …

“If we play LSU in Alabama, it’s the same as if we play Georgia State. We prepared the same way because you can be beaten by anyone. They don’t let down what the team’s record or the team’s name is. These guys are great. They have great defense and everyone on the team is good. If nobody was good, they wouldn’t be in this championship, so we have to prepare for them the same way we prepare for any other team. And like I said, this is just another game. This is no different from the first game. It is the same. It’s just on a bigger stage and we have to recognize that and not jump ahead and try to make it as big as it is, which is just another game to be played and won.”

Scarbrough was not with the Stallions when the USFL opened 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 rushed for 352 yards and a touchdown on 84 carries, and he had 39 yards on 11 carries and three receptions for 26 yards in the Stallions’ 31-17 win over the New Orleans Breakers in last week’s semifinals.

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

“He didn’t just add a great player,” said Holtz. “Anyone can watch the game on the field and say, ‘Wow, what a player.’ He brings another dimension to our backfield. He’s a big, strong, physical runner, with both CJ (Marable) and Tony Brooks-James being more of a scatback, spread offense tailback type. He brought some strength and clout to our football team.

“As a person, I think his value and contribution goes much deeper than just as a player. He comes from a program that is used to winning. I’ve talked a lot about the three phases that a football team goes through: A. You have to learn to measure yourself. B. You must learn what it takes to win. But C., you have to learn to deal with winning and that’s the process this team went through. We learned how to handle wins, how to carry a bull’s eye on the chest as a team with the record we had, where everyone was shooting after us, as a home team and as an unbeaten team at that point. And I think Bo just brought a sense of experience from being with coach (Nick) Saban, and I don’t know if there’s a college program that’s handled winning better than Alabama or at a more consistent pace base has done.

“Bo was a leader. He was loud. He’s respected by his teammates and despite riding the rollercoaster halfway down the hill four games into the season, he quickly fell in the hearts of these footballers who I think have a great deal of respect for him.”

Scarbrough also thinks highly of his teammates.

“This team was put together in a short amount of time and we didn’t have enough time to really communicate,” Scarbrough said. “But this team here, I feel the love, I want to be here and it’s just so amazing how a group of guys can come together so quickly and bond so quickly and want to play for each other. Even though we came from different schools and all, it’s like we all have this one mindset and one goal. I just feel like we’re all together as one. Seeing us out there playing together is just heartwarming to be in such a group of guys who really care about each other and not just individual guys. These guys take care of us as a team and we all have one goal, to win the trophy.”

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

Scarbrough entered the NFL in 2018 as a seventh-round draft selection for the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas fired Scarbrough when it reduced its preseason roster to its regular-season limit, but then re-signed him to its practice team. He remained with the Cowboys until his release on October 9, 2018.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed Scarbrough two days later for their practice team. On December 18, 2018, the Seattle Seahawks added Scarbrough to their active roster, but he has not played in either of their two regular season games or playoff contests.

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

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

After former Auburn star Kerryon Johnson was sidelined with a knee injury, Scarbrough made his NFL debut on the Detroit starting lineup 11 days later. He rushed for 55 yards for 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 player to rush for at least 55 yards and a touchdown on their debuts.

A rib injury that caused Scarbrough to miss a game and Johnson’s return for the last two contests limited his options, and he ended 2019 with 377 yards and a touchdown on 89 carries.

Scarbrough began the 2020 season on Detroit’s injured reserve and was released on October 31, 2020 without appearing in a game.

Eleven days later, Seattle signed Scarbrough to their practice team and he was placed on the active roster. But after rushing for 31 yards on six carries against the Arizona Cardinals on Nov. 19, 2020, he suffered a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the rest of the year.

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

“I wanted to take him with me the moment he first got drafted,” Holtz said. “Unfortunately, you are in a situation: can we add a fourth traffic jam? They only have a limited number, and it became a numbers game that I couldn’t take away from him when he first got drafted. When the league announced they were expanding their mid-season rosters – I think it was after game four – they went from 45 to 50 and I was like, ‘When does that go into effect?’ And they said it’s effective immediately for the free agents, but we’ll have to wait until Monday for the draft. And I said, ‘So this is effective now?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And I said, ‘Then I want to select Bo Scarbrough for the Birmingham stallions immediately. That’s what we want.’ So that’s when we got him off the free agent wire.”

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

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