| NEWS Najee Harris: It’s time to cut out the hurdles - AL.com


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Najee Harris didn’t waste time establishing his brand at Alabama.

Enrolling early as the nation’s No. 1 running back in the 2017 class, the Californian cut a few highlights in his first A-Day spring game. The hurdles caught the most attention, especially considering Harris is 6-foot-2, 230 pounds.

The leaping continued in real games with victims including Vanderbilt, Mercer and Tennessee among others. It became a calling card coming off the bench in his first two Crimson Tide seasons.

Making his first appearance in the media interview room Wednesday, Harris was asked about the thought process that goes into the on-field hurdle.

“There is no thought process,” Harris said. “It’s instinct. I’ve got to cut it out.”

Oh yeah?

No more hurdles for Harris?

Nick Saban hasn’t always been a fan of taking the aerial route in the past.

"It's not something that I particularly admire, personally,” he said two years ago.

Harris is starting to recognize that too. He said Wednesday the hurdle is “not the best way to get out sometimes” since some landings involve more of the head and neck than his two feet.

Former teammate Quinnen Williams recognized the difficulty Harris’ high jumps created for would-be tacklers.

“Najee’s a freak,” Williams said last fall. “You might not know what he’s going to do. He’s a freak. I really don’t get nervous for him because he’s got the confidence in himself to do it. When anybody’s got the confidence to do that type of stuff, to throw their body out for the team like that, it’s really not being nervous for him.”

There’s a big future to consider for Harris, a projected first-round pick in next spring’s NFL draft if his junior season meets expectations. He’s the top option in Alabama’a backfield after Damien Harris graduated and Josh Jacobs left early as a first-round draft pick.
He hasn’t gotten enough consistency with carries to know yet. I have been a fan of Robinson since his arrival so... I just like his style of running.
He hasn’t gotten enough consistency with carries to know yet. I have been a fan of Robinson since his arrival so... I just like his style of running.
I've heard great reports on Robinson since last spring. That said, your comment here is one I find interesting.

Najee has over twice as many carries as Brian and there are those who say, as Matt eluded to, that Brian is the better back of the two. How are they coming to that conclusion with little evidence on what Najee can bring as the featured back and yet at the same time they're pushing Brian?

There is one thing I want to see out the running backs this season and I'll admit it's unrealistic. I want another Damien. Why? Consider this research:

460+ rushing attempts at Bama.
Over 3000 yards rushing.
Not a single fumble lost. Nary a one.

It's funny to me that over the last three years the biggest thing I've wanted out of the quarterback position was ball control/security. We saw Tua play undisciplined at the end of last year resulting in untimely turnovers. Now, here we are looking at the running back for '19 and I'm beating the same ol' horse.
Seemed to me that Damien and Jacobs were quick to pop through the LOS. They were good at finding small running lanes even in a lot of traffic. Najee can hit a hole but his power seems to be on display more than his explosiveness out of the hole. I'm not trying to say that a gifted running back wouldn't be successful to a degree in whatever scheme you are running, just that certain guys seem to be built for certain schemes a little more. Josh and Damien did very well in the RPO look.

My question would be, how important is it to match up the type of back we're using to the type of offensive scheme were running? Before last year, we seemed to be running stuff that made our bigger backs the real focal point to our running game. We know the Derrick Henry story, but in 2016 it took the speed and power of Bo Scarbrough to finally break open our game vs LSU and he carried that power and speed into the playoffs. Again, it was Bo with his power and speed that broke open the Washington game and we were breaking Clemson's back with Bo until he got hurt. In 2017, in the Daboll offense, it was Damien, Bo, and even Najee Harris, not Josh Jacobs that was the heart of our offensive running plan. And Najee, in the 4th quarter vs Georgia was a beast.

The RPO look felt tailor-made to the skill set of Jacobs and even Harris. I just think what type of cannon we shoot these guys out of really matters.
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