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ESPN needs to add Alabama RB Damien Harris in Heisman conversation

Christopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

Not to throw any shade toward Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Bryce Love of Stanford or Rashard Penny of San Diego State, but there is another running back that deserves to be in the conversation for the Heisman Memorial Trophy. 

Alabama’s Damien Harris is the real deal and it’s obvious with each Southeastern Conference matchup. In games against Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and Arkansas, his breakaway speed has become a pleasant surprise – as he’s recorded a pair of 75-yard runs and a 61-yard scamper. 

Few things compare to the taste of a honey bun, except for maybe the desire to prove to college football analysts and a particular fan base that you are the best rusher on your own team. 

Disciplining himself from sweets has given the Crimson Tide a faster, more powerful and in the words of offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman, a more ‘bought in’ Harris through seven games. 

He has yet to lose a yard with the ball in his hands, and has turned in three 100-yard rushing performances versus the Commodores, Aggies and Razorbacks.

Harris’ new found confidence gives him a savviness in believing that he can score at any given moment. During Alabama’s first possession against Texas A&M and Arkansas, he set the course with a 75-yard touchdown run. 

Damien Harris Mid-Season Highlights 2017

Despite being a workhorse last season, the junior’s (sophomore then) 1,000-yard campaign took a backseat to a surging Bo Scarbrough. Although he led the team in rushing, Scarbrough’s injury in the College Football Playoff National Championship caused people to forget about Harris. 

A five-star himself, Harris is using this year to show he plays second fiddle to no one. 

Senior linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton mentioned over the weekend on how Harris is taking his game to the next level.

Sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts was the Tide’s leader in rushing prior to last week, but after handling the Hogs, Harris assumes the throne as primary rusher.  

Head coach Nick Saban named Harris and Calvin Ridley as the Tide’s most consistent playmakers on offense, during a presser to open homecoming week.  

Harris is currently third in the SEC in rushing yards (625) and touchdowns (nine) — while leading the conference in yards per rush attempt (9.2).  

Former Alabama standouts Mark Ingram (2009) and Derrick Henry (2015) both had specific moments that navigated them to winning the Heisman. Even though he did not win in 2011, Trent Richardson accounted for a multitude of plays that earned him a spot as a finalist. 

As much as Harris deflects the attention off himself to Jalen Hurts, the Kentucky native is someone who needs to seriously be discussed more in the Heisman race.  

With Tennessee next on its schedule and three other conference games remaining, keep all eyes on Harris as he intends to impress votes in getting a shot to head to New York City. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @Smsmith_TDALMag.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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