The Saban 250: No.101-110 Features a Bo, a Boss, and Title-Winning Quarterback

BamaCentral marks the end of the Nick Saban coaching era with the definitive rankings of his top 250 players with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (9) is surrounded by clouds of confetti after Alabama's 24-7 win over Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Saturday December 31, 2016.
Alabama running back Bo Scarbrough (9) is surrounded by clouds of confetti after Alabama's 24-7 win over Washington in the College Football Playoff semifinal in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, Saturday December 31, 2016. / Gary Cosby Jr./Tuscaloosa News / USA
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Maybe the hardest thing to do when putting together something like The Saban 250, ranking the players who made the biggest impact during the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, is weighing a career against an outstanding season or performance.

There may be no better example, as a whole, than running back Bo Scarbrough. He carried the Crimson Tide at an especially important time, and had a postseason performance that was one of the best in history. But his overall numbers? They didn't scream for attention.

Actually, those were all things that Scarbrough didn't really want to talk about when he was a player. Like his 180-yard performance against Washington and notching at least 90 rushing yards during each of the Crimson Tide’s final four games of the 2016.

Or his broken leg during the third quarter against Clemson in the national title game? He didn't want to talk about that either.
“That book is closed," Scarbrough would tell reporters. "The past is the past and I can’t talk about the past."

Scarbrough had a lot of experience dealing with both extremes during his playing career, and over the years he’s learned that the key to looking back is to simply not to. Learn what you can and move on, because if you live in the past that’s where you’ll be and not zeroed in on what’s next. At least that became his approach.

But at times, he was more than impressive. Like his 109-yard rushing yards on five carries at Tennessee, Scarbrough was dynamic and as exciting as anyone in college football. He could as easily go through defenders as around them, plus had the kind of burst every running back desires. He was one of those players who at times made playing football look effortless, even though it was anything but. The same went for development, which couldn't be called easy or simple.

The short version includes becoming not just a good prospect, but an elite one at Northridge High School in Tuscaloosa, transferring to Tuscaloosa County across town, playing his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.. and then going back to Tuscaloosa County to graduate. He initially committed to Alabama in Sept. 2012, but ended up in the signing class of 2014.

Scarbrough sat out the 2014 season due to academic issues, and the 2015 season began with a four-game NCAA suspension “for something that happened when he was being recruited in high school. "Not by us,” was all Nick Saban would say.

Meanwhile, there were the injuries, including a pair of torn ACLs and leg fractures. They kept piling up.

"I mean, you can’t avoid injury," Scarbrough said. "Whatever happens, happens. You have to have that mindset and be mentally strong.”

Consequently, one could see why Scarbrough didn't want to talk about his road to his final collegiate season in 2017 season, and how answering one question about it could lead to countless more. About the only thing he offered on dealing with the frustration was that he couldn’t let it stop him.

"You have to work on the days you don’t feel like working," he said. "Those are the days that you get better and stronger."


The Saban 250: 101-110

The Saban 250 ranks the players who made the biggest impact during his time with the Crimson Tide (2007-23).

101. Bo Scarbrough, RB, 2015-17

• Seventh-round selection 2018 NFL Draft
• Finished career with 1,512 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns
• Best stretch was in the 2016 postseason when he had 46 carries for 364 yards and six touchdowns and averaged 7.9 yards per carry. With 19 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns was Offensive MVP of playoff semifinal against Washington
• Had 93 rushing yards and two touchdowns in first half of 2016 title game against Clemson before suffering a leg injury

102. Terrell Lewis, LB, 2016-19

• 2019 second-team All-SEC
• Third-round selection in 2020 NFL Draft
• After having season-ending injuries two straight years tied for fifth among SEC defenders with 11.5 tackles for loss. Had six sacks, 16 pressures, 31 tackles, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery

103. Justin Eboigbe, DE, 2019-23

• 2023 All-SEC
• Fourth-round selection in 2024 NFL Draft
• Came back from a scary neck injury suffered early in the 2022 season to lead the Crimson Tide defensive line with 64 tackles, including 11.5 for loss and seven sacks, along with four quarterback hurries and one pass breakup
• Played in 56 career games and was credited with 122 tackles, including 15 for a loss and nine sacks, with four passes defended, two fumble recoveries and one interception

104. Christian Miller, LB, 2015-18

• Fourth-round pick in 2019 NFL Draft
• Team captain
• After suffering an arm injury during opener of junior year came back and played in final three games to help Alabama win national championship
• Had 36 tackles, including 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks with a team-high tying 12 quarterback hurries as a senior

105. Josh Chapman, DT, 2008-11

• 2011 second-team All-SEC
• Fifth-round selection in 2012 NFL Draft
• Played most of 2011 title season on torn ACL, meniscus in knee
• Played in 44 games at nose tackle. Had 88 career tackles, including 13.5 for a loss

Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman on the cover of Sports Illustrated
Alabama defensive tackle Josh Chapman on the cover of Sports Illustrated /

106. Jake Coker, QB, 2014-15

• Team captain
• Was 263-for-393 (66.9 percent), 3,110 yards with 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions while leading Alabama to a national title. Had passer rating of 147.0
• After transferring from Florida State, was 301-for-452 (66.6 percent) for 3,513 yards, with 25 touchdowns and eight interceptions, over two seasons. His passer rating at Alabama was 146.6

107. Tim Williams, LB, 2013-16

• 2016 second-team All-American
• 2016 second-team All-SEC
• Third-round selection in 2017 NFL Draft
• Had 10.5 sacks as a junior 9.0 as a senior when 51.6 percent of his tackles came behind the line of scrimmage with 16 tackles for loss
• Also had 12 quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a pair of pass breakups and a fumble recovery he returned for a touchdown
• For his career, 30 of his 57 tackles were for a loss, and 20 were sacks

108. William Vlachos, C, 2008-11

• 2011 second-team All-American
• 2011 All-SEC; 2010 second-team All-SEC
• Took over as starter as redshirt sophomore in 2009
• Started 40 consecutive games and played in 48 games overall

109. Isaiah Buggs, DT, 2017-18

• 2018 second-team All-American
• 2018 second-team All-SEC
• Sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft
• The junior-college transfer was credited with 103 tackles, 17.5 sacks and two forced fumbles for his career
• As a senior, his 9.5 sacks were fourth in the SEC, and he was eighth in tackles for a loss with 13.5. Overall, had 51 tackles six quarterback pressures, three pass breakups, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery

110. Jermaine Burton, WR, 2022-23

• Transferred from Georgia with two years of eligibility remaining and tallied 1,475 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns on 79 catches
• As a senior, led the SEC and ranked sixth nationally with a 20.5 yards per catch average.
• Despite having two different quarterbacks throwing to him, his numbers were very similar during his two seasons at Alabama: 40 catches for 667 yards and seven TDs in 2022, 39 for 798, and eight scores in 2023.
• Third-round selection in 2024 NFL Draft


The Boss of Alabama: Josh Chapman

It was fourth-and-1 and Derek Dooley thought he had nothing to lose. Alabama had just scored on its first possession of the second half and the Tennessee head coach knew it might be his team’s last chance to keep from being overwhelmed by the momentum.

His quarterback had failed to execute a quick snap before the Crimson Tide could bring in its short-yardage package and Nick Saban was able to call time out to not only make the desired personnel changes but also to remind his players that the Volunteers liked to go with a quarterback sneak in that situation.

Matt Simms probably never knew how much he had going against him, and sure enough came up short. Although the official statistician credited junior linebacker Dont’a Hightower with being in on the play, the stop was really all senior nose tackle Josh Chapman, who shot out of his stance and pushed the opposing interior players back. 

Like so many other times, the biggest, strongest player in the middle, and heart of the Crimson Tide’s defensive line, received nowhere near the praise he deserved. 

“Playing my position, you have to be the guy who doesn’t look for credit,” Chapman explained. “My fun is when you see the linebackers, the safeties get their amount of tackles. Dont’a is a great guy, plays behind me, my job is to keep guys off him. When I see him and Nico (Johnson) making tackles it cheers me up.

“That Tennessee play, I knew they were going to try and sneak the ball. They were going to try a hard count to jump us offside, I could see that they were going to try it. This was Tennessee, the biggest rival for the state. To make that stand that was just something to be proud of. I just tried to go back there and create a new line of scrimmage.”

On the very next play, after Alabama took over on downs, sophomore quarterback AJ McCarron hit sophomore Kenny Bell in the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown and the rout was on. Other plays may have been flashier, like senior Marquis Maze’s 69-yard bomb in the first half, or featured in the highlights, including junior running back Trent Richardson’s 12-yard touchdown run through four-plus defenders. But Chapman’s stuff was the key point of the 37-6 victory.  

“I think that Josh is one of the better defensive linemen in the country,” Hightower said. “He probably doesn't get as much praise because he doesn't make as many tackles or sacks or anything on the statistical level. But playing a 3-4 (scheme) you've got to have a really good nose guard. If me or Nico Johnson or Jerrell Harris or Courtney Upshaw is having a good game, 95 percent of the time it's not just because of raw talent, it's definitely because of Josh Chapman, because he demands a double-team every play.”

If it seemed like Chapman had been doing that for years, it’s because he did. While Australian Jesse Williams was sort of the new sensation in 2011, and before him Terrence Cody became a campus favorite, Alabama’s weight-room warrior kept plugging away.

Go back to Saban’s first Southeastern Conference game with Alabama in 2007, which was played at Vanderbilt. On the field that day was Chapman, the only person on the 2011 national champions who played that Saturday before taking a medical redshirt. He was also one of the few players still around who had been initially recruited by Mike Shula.

But unlike center William Vlachos, linebacker Alex Watkins or defensive lineman Nick Gentry, who all said yes to Alabama and then decided to stay with it through the coaching change, Chapman wasn’t committed to play for the Crimson Tide when Saban took over. He was committed to Auburn.

“I was going to be a Tiger,” Chapman said. “I was at Hoover and I was in one of my coaches’ offices and Coach Steele came in, he was in all black, he was like “How are you doing, I’m (defensive coordinator) Kevin Steele. He introduced himself to me, he met my mom and all of that, talked to my uncle. Then I came and met coach, and it was this is where I want to be. “

How much time was there between Saban’s arrival in Tuscaloosa and National Signing Day? Roughly a month, but that was long enough to also land Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks and a few others.

“Coach, he has a little sense of humor to him, he makes you laugh at times, but the guy knows a lot about the game of football and can get you to where you need to be in life, as a player and as a person,” Chapman said. “I just felt like being here and playing for him.

“One thing I came here to do, a lot of guys want to play at the next level, my thing was graduating. I got my degree last December. Your degree is something that your mom will be on you all the time about, I know that I can leave here with my degree, it’s real special. I’m just proud of myself, proud that Coach Saban and the staff have put me in the position I am now.”

The Tennessee game was the 50th of his career. It was especially fitting when Sports Illustrated decided to put a player on the regional cover to characterize the Crimson Tide’s defense after dominating Florida, it chose the man teammates called “Boss.”

“It’s like a fight. It’s who hit who first, and you just keep on hitting and hitting,” he said.

“Being up front where they’re fighting in the trenches is just fun when you have three guys on you, and you’re holding three guys up and all you hear is a big collision. One of my boys just came and laid the bang on somebody.”

See Also: No. 111-120 Includes Crimson Tide Player Known as 'Nudie'

Next up: No. 91-100


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Christopher Walsh

CHRISTOPHER WALSH

Christopher Walsh is the founder and publisher of BamaCentral, which first published in 2018. He's covered the Crimson Tide since 2004, and is the author of 26 books including Decade of Dominance, 100 Things Crimson Tide Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Nick Saban vs. College Football, and Bama Dynasty: The Crimson Tide's Road to College Football Immortality. He's an eight-time honoree of Football Writers Association of America awards and three-time winner of the Herby Kirby Memorial Award, the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s highest writing honor for story of the year. In 2022, he was named one of the 50 Legends of the ASWA. Previous beats include the Green Bay Packers, Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, along with Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks. Originally from Minnesota and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he currently resides in Tuscaloosa.