As if putting both Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa on its top 25 list of college football quarterbacks returning for next season was not enough, Sporting News returned on Wednesday with another top 25 list in football and this one centered around another glorified skill position.
Running back has never been a position need at Alabama, especially since Nick Saban arrival to the program in 2007. He put eight rushers in the National Football League, and the duo that Sporting News has represent the next two guys that will hear their names called soon as well.
He returns for his sophomore year next fall, but Najee Harris showed last season that he might arguably be the best back of the Saban era. Hailing from California, the 228-pounder spun and hurdled his way to 370 rushing yards with three touchdowns on 61 carries through 14 games.
While hurdling a Vanderbilt defender was impressive, the five-star led all backs for the Tide in rushing (65 yards) versus Georgia in the College Football Playoff national title game. Harris’ performance in the second half assisted the school to a 26-23 win over the Bulldogs in overtime.
Based on his overall potential, Sporting News ranked Harris at No. 24.
Following his second straight 1,000-yard season, the publication decided to place the more experienced Harris – Damien – at No. 8. A native of Richmond, Ky., Damien Harris could have declared for the NFL Draft, after he recorded 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on 135 attempts.
His decision to return to school surprised a lot of people, however, Harris has an opportunity to improve his draft stock and make history. He can become the first back to total three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at Alabama. Harris currently is the 20th rusher in school history to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark for a career – 2,194 – and has seven career 100-yard rushing performances.
With Bo Scarbrough gone, he now becomes the leader of the rotation.