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Najee Harris says second-team was better than first at times in his freshman year at Alabama

Najee Harris (#22) runs the ball for Steelers during 2021 season
Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

Najee Harris is an entertaining player on a football field, but he’s becoming an awesome personality for the media.

He has the California swagger, but Harris is not afraid of keeping things real.

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As he prepares for his sophomore season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the former first-round pick was featured on the All Things Covered podcast. Harris talked about how intense the competition was at the University of Alabama. He arrived on campus as a five-star running back in the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 signing class for 2017. Alabama had a talented group that season, but Harris spoke on how the second-team unit was better than the first group at times. Tide fans witnessed several freshmen — including Harris, Tua Tagovailoa, Jedrick Wills, Alex Leatherwood, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy, Dylan Moses, and Xavier McKinney — be impactful on a national championship squad.

“I remember back in practice when we all came in, it was times they told us our two’s are better than our one’s,” Harris said. “The two’s were all freshmen. It was all of us. We were scrimmaging, and they were like ‘our two’s are better than our one’s godd—–.’ It was not until we played Georgia in the championship game that everyone in the country knew. They threw in me, Tua, Jeudy, Smitty, X, Dylan Moses, and Jedrick. You had damn near 17 people playing rookie year in that national championship game. Then we came back and won with freshmen.”

The moment Nick Saban made the switch to put all freshmen on the field in the 2018 CFP National Championship Game versus Georgia remains one of the best moves of his career. Alabama trailed 13-0 at halftime and would have lost the matchup if Saban did not make the move. Instead, he rolled the dice and the freshmen delivered a 26-23 comeback victory in overtime for a national title. Harris was one of the league’s top rushers in 2021, but he’s stepping into a leadership role for the Steelers.

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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 @CoachingMSmith. 

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