Bay Area Strong – The Success Story of Najee Harris

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Hollis Williams, Reporter

Najee Harris is a name every college football fan is familiar with. This past year, he had the best season by an Alabama running back ever and has undoubtedly represented the Bay Area these last four years with the Crimson Tide. 

Harris, his four siblings, and his mother bounced between homeless shelters growing up before moving to Antioch, California when he was 13. He recalls staying in a Richmond shelter for about a year and that the garage of his Antioch home was once peppered with bullet holes. Despite the tough upbringing, Harris excelled on the football field at Antioch High School. Although Antioch only won one game his freshman year, they improved immensely under his leadership; they went on to win seven games his sophomore year, 11 his junior year, and eight his senior year. He finished his high school career with 7,948 rushing yards, the fourth most in California high school history, and 99 touchdowns. 

These numbers made him one of the top high school recruits in the country, with some scouts ranking him as the number one player in his class. He received offers from some of the best football programs in the nation like Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, USC, and Georgia. Harris could truly pick any college, but it was only right that he chose the most dominant program in the country: Alabama. 

I must admit that I remember hearing about his decision and thinking to myself: “Why would he choose Alabama if he is just going to sit for the first half of his college career?”  Indeed, in his first two seasons, Harris had to share the backfield with current NFL running backs Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris and even considered transferring his freshman year. However, after he assumed the starting spot his junior year, it was clear that he made the right decision. After a breakout junior season where he rushed for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns, Harris decided to stay for his senior year and raised his draft stock from a projected second or third-round pick to a projected first-round pick. He led all of college football with 26 rushing touchdowns, earned All-America honors, and asserted himself as college football’s top back by winning the Doak Walker Award. Finally, he capped the season off with a National Championship, serving a vital role in Alabama’s win with three touchdowns. 

Najee Harris has captured the attention of football fans across the country, especially those from the Bay Area who have watched a homegrown talent develop into a top running back prospect in the upcoming NFL draft.