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Alabama's biggest strength: running back

Last week on the SEC blog, we examined the biggest need for every team this offseason.

To look on the sunnier side of life, we're spending this week looking at the area of strength for all 14 teams in the conference.

Up first: Alabama.

Position: Running back

Key losses: Derrick Gore (transfer)

Key returnees: B.J. Emmons, Joshua Jacobs, Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough

Key newcomers: Najee Harris

Breakdown: A lot is going to be made of new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian's role in developing quarterback Jalen Hurts as a passer this offseason, and rightfully so, considering the shaky way Hurts ended an otherwise spectacular freshman season.

But Sarkisian, along with running backs coach Burton Burns, will have another problem to address this offseason: how to spread carries.

Granted, it's a good problem to have, but that doesn't mean it's easily solved.

Damien Harris and Scarbrough both have the ability to be feature backs. Damien Harris, you'll remember, led the team in rushing with 1,040 yards as a sophomore. But it was Scarbrough, a redshirt sophomore, who dazzled down the stretch, rushing for 454 yards and six touchdowns during the final four games of the season.

(Scarbrough broke his leg during the Clemson game, but according to coach Nick Saban, the injury was "nonsurgical" and he anticipates "a full recovery.")

Keeping those two involved in the offense would be difficult enough without Emmons, Jacobs and the arrival of Najee Harris.

Emmons and Jacobs weren't household names last season, but if you watched the two freshmen play then you had to come away impressed. Before Emmons' foot injury, he showed immense promise, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Jacobs appeared in all 15 games and rushed for 564 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 6.6 yards per carry.

Najee Harris is the wild card.

During his four years at Antioch High in California, he rushed for a remarkable 7,947 yards and 94 touchdowns. He's a unanimous five-star prospect and ESPN's No. 2-rated running back in the 2017 class. At 6-foot-3 and 226 pounds, he already has the size to play in the SEC, and he'll have the benefit of enrolling early so he can participate in spring practice.

While redshirting him isn't out of the question, keeping him off the field as a true freshman could prove difficult.

How Sarkisian and Burns will accomplish that remains to be seen. With a handful of capable running backs and a quarterback who is terrific at rushing the football, figuring out the right distribution of touches will take some calculation.

If this were 50 years ago, there would be one obvious choice: the wishbone.