He loves defensive backs at his heart, but Nick Saban has hit home runs in producing inside linebackers.
Players like Rolando McClain and Dont’a Hightower started the trend, but then Alabama football landed C.J. Mosley, Nico Johnson, Reggie Ragland, Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Lyndell “Mack” Wilson and Rashaan Evans.
All of these players have at least one national championship, and some even won individual awards. Everyone in the group was selected to play in the National Football League and though Dylan Moses is next, another linebacker had NFL scouts on notice with his performance last week versus Missouri. Prior to last year, Christian Harris had never played linebacker in football.
A native of Baton Rouge, La., his success was at wide receiver, safety and on special teams.
An injury to Joshua McMillon in August camp forced the alumnus of University Lab School into action as a starter at weakside linebacker.
Despite early nerves, Harris grew in confidence each week. He ended up finishing his freshman year with 63 tackles (fourth on team), 7.5 tackles for loss, five quarterback hurries, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery through 13 games. The former four-star was named to the Freshman All-SEC team by the league’s coaches for his efforts.
He was already fast, but Harris dropped 12 pounds before this season.
Listed at 6-foot-2 and 232 pounds, he looked even faster and was headhunting players like Foster. Through three quarters against Missouri, the sophomore stayed in the backfield and created trouble for Eliah Drinkwitz’s offense.
He made the first huge defensive play of the game for the Crimson Tide, which was sacking Tigers’ quarterback Shawn Robinson on third down for a loss of 10 yards. It was Harris’ first career sack and one of two tackles for loss he had in the matchup. He was pivotal against the run too, limiting Larry Rountree to 67 yards rushing (14 carries) and Missouri to 69 yards rushing.
Even with the second-team defense allowing two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Harris’ outing with the first unit put Missouri in a 28-3 hole at halftime.
He finished with six total tackles and was everywhere on the field.
Coach Saban mentioned during the week and after the game on how confident Harris plays with Moses next to him.
With him not having to make calls, the young leader can just see and attack the football. He has the potential to be the next first-rounder at inside linebacker and Tide fans see it in Harris.
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