Najee Harris was once the most coveted running back coming out of high school. Now, he is easily the most polarizing and talked about player at his position this season. Alabama and college football fans alike sit eagerly at the edge of their seats every Saturday to see what he will do next. The California product currently sits high atop Alabama career rushing records in two categories: rushing yards (9th) and touchdowns (tied at 6th). With 5 games left to go in the regular season, Harris is closing in on a few other Crimson Tide greats: Damien Harris, Trent Richardson, and Mark Ingram when it comes to career yards. In regards to touchdowns, the records of Trent Richardson, TJ Yeldon, Shaun Alexander, Mark Ingram, and Derrick Henry are in jeopardy.
When it comes to finding comparisons to former backs, his sheer brute force compares with that of Derrick Henry. In terms of athleticism, Josh Jacobs, Shaud Williams, and Shaun Alexander come to mind. He’s s certainly in good company with those names. So, what happens when we combine those qualities? The result is former 2012 All-SEC performer Eddie Lacy.
During his final two seasons with the Crimson Tide, Eddie averaged 7.5 yards per carry and 6.48 yards per carry respectively. That 7.5 yards per carry ranked him 6th nationally in the NCAA. Najee, on the other hand averaged 5.9 and 5.8 yards per carry the past 1.5 seasons. This season, against Ole Miss, Harris averaged a whopping 9.0 yards per carry. Needless to say, both gentlemen know how to move the ball. The methods they employ to achieve this feat are what makes them similar.
Perhaps what Alabama fans relish the most about Eddie Lacy and Najee Harris are their incredible displays of athletic excellence. Eddie, or “circle button”, as his former teammates called him was known for a sweet spin move that broke ankles and left defenders feeling very foolish. This was especially true of one-on-one encounters. Just ask former Georgia defenders from the 2012 SEC Championship game. The most satisfying though was when Lacy had a group of defenders believing they had stopped him for a loss or no gain. Within an instant, the inner circle button was activated, he spun out, and the end result was a large pickup.
The same attribute is held by Najee Harris as well. He has replicated the same feats on countless occasions. However, his arsenal does not simply stop there. He has another button. When self-activated, he can hurdle a man as if he wasn’t even there. Many linebackers and defensive backs have been left grasping for air where Najee once was. This has allowed him to pick up much needed first downs or touchdowns. Often times, I find myself looking for side judges to be holding up scorecards after executed. The crazy thing about it is, he seems to be doing all of this with a lot more speed.
I am a 2003 graduate from the University of Alabama with a degree in Exercise Science. While at the Capstone, I served as a student assistant with the head strength and conditioning coach of the Crimson Tide football team. I have competed in both powerlifting and bodybuilding for several years. In addition, I have served athletes and people through the arena of personal training. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I am a passionate fan of Alabama, but do not make other fan bases miserable because of it. College football has my heart first, but I cover all areas of sports. Follow me on Twitter: @justinriley7!