For two seasons, Najee Harris has been biding his time.
The junior running back at Alabama — and the nation’s top running back recruit coming out of Antioch, California, in 2017 — hasn’t tried to leap ahead of more experienced players at his position in his first two years. He hasn’t bounded into the NCAA Transfer Portal even though it has grown wider in terms of player access over the past year or so.
In fact, the one place that Harris has done any noticeable jumping has been on the football field. He occasionally tried to leap over opposing defenders rather than elude them in more conventional ways, a practice that Harris intends to stop.
“There’s no thought process (to hurdling),” Harris said on Wednesday. “It’s just instinct. I’ve got to cut it out, though. I’ve got to cut it out. That’s not the coaches (saying to stay on the ground), it’s me.
“It’s not the best way to go about things,” Harris said, making a spinning motion with his hands. “I’ve landed on my head. It’s happened in a game — the spring game, that’s where it was.”
Harris got some chances last season with 117 rushes for 783 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. He’s become an answer to a trivia question (“Who have been Alabama’s leading rushers in each of the last two College Football Playoff championship games?”
The answer is Harris, both against Georgia and Clemson.) But he is ready for more.
“Being patient,” Harris said when asked about his first two years. “As a running back anywhere in the country, you always want to get in a game and show what you can do. Sometimes, you’ve just got to wait for your opportunity.”
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt