Alabama football has a player that does not receive enough recognition for the work he has put on the field. America, meet senior running back Damien Harris.
For the past two seasons, Damien Harris has achieved the quietest 1,000-yard seasons of any Alabama football running back. Considering all the great runners Alabama football has produced, none have completed three 1,000 yard seasons. Harris can achieve that feat this upcoming season. If he amasses 1,395 yards, Damien will leave as Alabama’s all-time leading rusher.
Had Harris chose to depart for the riches of the NFL, thirteen Tide players would have been drafted instead of twelve. The senior resembles dangerous Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.
Instead, he is back on campus preparing for his senior season. Harris will provide stern leadership for a team fighting complacency that comes after winning a championship.
Often overlooked, he provides Alabama football head coach Nick Saban with a clear sense of comfort. The Richmond, Kentucky native only had 135 carries last season sharing the workload with three other runners. In comparison, Derrick Henry had 395 carries during his award-winning year. The prior season, Damien had just 146 touches.
Amazingly, he averages over 7 yards every time he touches the ball. His 7.4 yards-per-carry average ranks second all-time in Alabama history for backs that had 100 or more carries.
Ready for Prime Time
Considered the top running back recruit in the nation by Rivals, Harris was the number one prospect out of the state of Kentucky. Damien finished his prep career as with the second most touchdowns in state history (122). Sprinkle in 6,748 yards for eleventh best Kentucky history.
For his freshman season, Harris was the backup to Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. Damien ended the season with 46 rushes and 157 yards with one touchdown. He displayed glimpses of his strong running ability against Middle Tennessee when he scampered 41 yards for a touchdown.
Damien has impressed since his first start
With the loss of Henry and Kenyan Drake, a new starting running back had to emerge. Pundits figured the job was Bo Scarborough’s job to lose. Unfortunately, it did not turn out that way. Harris impressed from the moment preseason practice commenced. In his first career start, he had nine carries for 138 yards. An eye-popping stat for Damien is that as the game wore on, he averaged eight yards a carry in the second half of games. Although Harris was a rushing dynamo, the coaches leaned heavily on bruising Scarborough in the latter months of the season and the playoffs.
For his junior season, he gave up his favorite sugary snack, honey buns, to shed some pounds and be ready for the upcoming season. Arriving in preseason camp motivated, he went on to have a remarkable season. In back to back games against Texas A&M and Arkansas, he had exciting 75-yard touchdowns on the Tide’s opening possessions. Harris finished with exactly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Time is Now
Expect All-SEC, Doak Walker, and Maxwell Award recognition. All of these milestones have eluded him thus far.
Harris displays uncanny vision, explosive running, maintains a low center of gravity and possesses quick feet in and out of the hole.
Even though he will share carries with sophomores, Najee Harris and Brian Robinson, Damien is the consistent, dependable workhorse that Saban needs to close out games.
In conclusion, he can become the third Alabama football Heisman winner, which would cement his legacy in Crimson Tide history.
Finally, Nick Saban’s offensive philosophy evenly distributes the workloads for his running backs to keep them fresh. Harris’s limited work allows him to go the distance every time he touches the ball.