Najee Harris came to Alabama last year as a five-star running back out of Antioch, California. It was in Tuscaloosa that he quickly learned the difference about being a highly-rated recruit at schools like Alabama compared to others. At most schools, a five-star talent is going to see the field in his freshman season, and likely be a significant contributor. At Alabama, you’re just another in an extensive collection of the country’s most talented players.
As a result, Harris only had 61 carries last season, resulting in 370 yards and three touchdowns. He also contemplated leaving Tuscaloosa. A sentiment he shared with the San Francisco Chronicle.
That’s why he contemplated leaving Alabama after his freshman season, frustrated by sparse playing time. And that’s also why he ultimately stayed, figuring Alabama still offers the best path to the NFL.
“The only thing I can tell you is, I hope I’m on the field more,” Harris said. “Last year was the worst feeling. That whole season was mentally challenging.”
I would guess the most challenging part of the season for Harris was from October to early January. In Alabama’s first five games of the season, he had 37 carries for 199 yards. Over Alabama’s next eight games, he had 18 carries for 107 yards, and all of them came in blowouts against Arkansas, Tennessee and Mercer. Still, he showed up on the biggest stage of them all, finishing the season with 64 rushing yards against Georgia in the title game.
With Damien Harris and Joshua Jacobs still on the roster, as well as a four-star back joining the team in Jerome Ford, Harris will once again be fighting for carries this season. If he finds himself standing on the sideline more than he wishes to this season, he may contemplate leaving again next winter.