I’m not sure if it was our natural Gump jitters, or a simple look at the depth charts of the respective schools, or maybe even sites trying to gin up that page views, but Najee Harris’ recruitment got decidedly weird the last six weeks of the season. Harris’ mother and brother were apparently very interested in keeping him close to Cal, and for a while the Bears were thought to be in the mix. All in the backdrop, was the push from Michigan — which had no elite back and very much is in need of one for Harbaugh’s scheme. Playing time, and a lot of it early, seemed to await at Ann Arbor. Then, there were the dueling plane trips and decision dates Harris made the first week of January, as he was deciding between Michigan and Alabama.
In the end (with a big assist from fellow early enrollee, and now-roommate, Tua Tagovailoa) Najee stayed true to his commitment and touched down at Birmingham’s Shuttlesworth Airport on January 7th. He is now enrolled and is undoubtedly getting smoked by Coach Cochran and the 4th Quarter program. Playing time, an NFL future, strong competition, and strong academics were the wish list items for Harris. It is to the University’s credit that Alabama’s academic profile has improved drastically enough in the past 15 years or so such as to at least be in striking range when mentioned that calibre of schools — ten years ago, Harris is almost certainly a Wolverine.
And, again, huge props to Tua:
The final tug toward Tuscaloosa may well have been his friendship with roommate Tua Tagovailoa, a five-star quarterback from Hawaii.
“That’s my dog. Tua is my dude,” Harris said. “He is hella funny. I can see myself being friends with him for life. They say you meet your best friends in college. When we first met, we just clicked. We’re just really cool like that.”
Now, for a quick breakdown of the 6’1, 200-pounder from Antioch, CA. The one weakness noted in his game is lack of breakaway speed. Alabama has had plenty of excellent running backs now starting and drawing paychecks in the NFL who lacked that extra gear (TJ Yeldon comes to mind.) And, as you see from his film, what he may lack in pure speed, he makes up for with game speed and a very versatile skills set. He may not have his pure high-end speed, but Harris’ length, feet, and hands are certainly reminiscent of Kenyan Drake all wrapped up in a nastier overall package.
Has been compared to his former workout partner Joe Mixon (OU) and it's easy to see why. He has size, power, toughness, speed and great hands out of the backfield. He runs with patience and balance, can make that first guy miss and does a great job making yards after contact. He has the length of a WR and can be moved around to cause matchup problems.
This is an exciting prospect, one that I cannot wait to see with the ball in his hands. Mixon is a good comparison, at least on the field
— no one has accused Najee of being a piece of human trash insulated in an adoring football bubble.
Here are some of the consensus high school All-American’s highlights at The Opening, where he shows off all his athleticism.
Roll Tide, Najee