Sometimes, a set of circumstances happen to force someone into action.
At the University of Alabama, head coach Nick Saban normally goes with a committee of two to three running backs. He likes to not only keep players fresh, but also throw different looks and dynamics to various defensive coordinators to confuse them. This has proved to be successful for the six-time national champion; however, there are times when one guy has to carry the load.
The Crimson Tide first experienced the moment in 2015.
Kenyan Drake was coming off a gruesome leg injury in the previous season, and not too many people knew how healthy he would look.
Despite his blend of toughness and versatility in the passing game, Tide fans were still hesitant. Alabama also signed a five-star back in the 2015 class – Damien Harris – but he was not ready for the big stage yet.
With this going on and the team trying to bounce back from two years without a national championship, Derrick Henry took matters into his own hands. He worked out all summer, pushed his weight to 242 pounds, and prepared himself mentally to get the ball every time.
His mindset led him to delivering the Tide its first-ever 2,000-yard (2,219) rusher in school history for a single-season and he would go on to win a Heisman Trophy and help the program win a national title.
For junior Najee Harris, this situation is heading for him next.
Harris, like Henry, was a five-star prospect in the 2017 class.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, the California native possesses great athleticism and has the strength to carry the rushing attack.
He’s developed patience in the last two years and despite Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs getting more action in 2018, Najee led the squad in yards per carry average (6.69) through 15 games and totaled 783 yards rushing with four touchdowns.
Steve Sarkisian, Alabama’s offensive coordinator, said at the Open Practice that he wants to consistently run the football to open everything else up.
He mentioned that at every coaching stop on his journey, he has had one 1,000-yard rusher. A question was asked on whether he would be for Harris getting 25 to 30 carries a game (if needed) and Sark is fine with it.
An injury to Trey Sanders (foot) and rumors sparking on an injury to Jerome Ford in the scrimmage has opened the conversation of should Harris get the Henry treatment this fall?
Since Sarkisian is about balance and doing numerous things well to frustrate defenses, do not be surprised if the team choses to lean on Harris more. Alabama has Brian Robinson, Keilan Robinson and Chadarius Townsend (at receiver now), but it’s something to think about for Harris.
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