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September 2, 2011

Scarbrough making waves

TUSCALOOSA | You don't believe it until you see it. Even then you find yourself questioning it. He's how big? Wait, how old? Nah, he can't be that fast.

You can hear about him from everyone else, but it's not until you see him with your own eyes that your mouth slacks in disbelief.

Bo Scarbrough, the Northridge High School offensive phenomenon who is taking the state by storm, has that effect on people.

There is never a need to ask, "Which one is Bo Scarbrough?" No, that is quite obvious - by his sheer size and speed.

Scarbrough will put that size and speed on display tonight when the Jaguars host Tuscaloosa County High School.

Simply put, Scarbrough is a genetics lottery winner, one of those rare specimens that don't come around very often. And when they do, they're never in your backyard, your hometown.

Only in this case, he is.

Scarbrough is a 6-foot-2, 215-pound sophomore who could start for any team in the state, regardless of classification, program or roster size. And there are some who believe and will tell you, with a straight face mind you, that, physically, he could start for some college programs, too.

As crazy as that sounds, they just might be right. After all, he runs a 4.3-second 40-yard-dash.

The legend of Bo Scarbrough is still in its infancy, yet the potential is tantalizing. It began in the first high school game he ever played in his freshman season. The play was a counter.

Northridge High School was 0-2, blown out in its first two games by a combined score of 69-13. Head coach Mike Smith was in trouble heading into the matchup against a hyped Minor High team, and he knew it. Desperate, he turned to Scarbrough, who was in ninth grade.

"He breaks the line of scrimmage, and (Minor has) five guys with an angle on him, including Christion Jones (now a freshman defensive back for the University of Alabama), and not one of them could catch him," Smith said. "And I thought, 'Uh-oh, this boy's going to be good.' You've got Division I guys, SEC guys that can't catch him? He's pretty good."

He rushed for four touchdowns that night, in his first varsity football game.

Did you know he has a 38-inch vertical leap? This summer he finished second in an AAU basketball slam-dunk event he entered just for fun. He first dunked in a game against Duncanville Middle School as an eighth-grader.

"It was a drop-step dunk," Scarbrough said. "I just turned around and dunked it. I didn't know I was that high in the air."

If it seems like all of this is embellished, like he's too good to be true, ask major college football programs, including those in the Southeastern Conference, if they know of him. Of course, colleges are prohibited from speaking about prospective student-athletes they recruit, especially sophomores, but they know Bo. Mississippi State extended a verbal offer this summer. Alabama and Auburn may not be far behind. He plans to be at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday for UA's season opener against Kent State.

"Everybody knows about Bo Scarborough," Smith said.

Scarbrough rushed for just 38 yards last Thursday in a 34-19 opening-season win (last season he averaged 8.4 yards a carry). He showed his versatility by making four catches for 85 yards and one touchdown.

As prodigious as talent as he is, perhaps his most admirable characteristic is his naïveté. Scarbrough has no grasp on how good he is. At least not yet.

"I think he's so young, in his mind it hasn't soaked in that this stuff may be real," Smith said. "It's kind of like watching a cartoon to him right now. It's entertaining, but he doesn't believe any of it. The day he starts believing it, he's going to be pretty good. He has not a clue."

Some analysts and one major assistant college coach have quietly predicted that Scarbrough will be the best player in the state by his senior year. Maybe in the nation, too.

He still has a hard time believing it.

"A couple of weeks ago, I saw (a list with) the top five players and saw my name, and I was like, 'Wow, I'm in the top five in the state.' I think I have the opportunity to go somewhere now," he said.

Greg Ostendorf contributed to this report. Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229



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