Will Najee Harris be the best running back in Alabama football history?
If you had to pick a position on offense that Alabama football has dominated over the past decade, it would have to be running back. Quality quarterbacks have come and gone, but a solid running game has been a staple of Nick Saban’s offense. From Mark Ingram to Josh Jacobs, there have been excellent running backs.
The next star to come off of the Nick Saban assembly line is Najee Harris. Harris returned for his senior season after having a monster junior campaign. His 1224 rushing yards was a career high for a season, and he also had seven receiving touchdowns. With his senior season on the horizon, the hope is that he could have another monster year for the Crimson Tide.
So, where might he end up on Alabama football’s all-time running back list? He has some stiff competition.
Alabama football’s best running backs ever
There is currently a debate for the best running back to ever play for Alabama, but the short list includes Mark Ingram, Derrick Henry, and Shaun Alexander. A recency bias and Heisman trophies give Henry and Ingram the edge, but Alexander is an Alabama football legend.
Behind them is the second tier of running backs. This would include backs like Trent Richardson, Josh Jacobs, Damien Harris, and other stars of recent memory. This list includes backs that either had extended years of success or a couple of star-studded seasons. However, they cannot compare to the Heisman campaigns of Ingram and Henry.
If Najee Harris has another year with similar stats to 2019, he would easily slot as the fourth-best running back in Crimson Tide history. However, he has a chance to slide into the third slot. To do so, he would have to have a Heisman finalist campaign. This is well within reach. If Alabama plans on going back to a traditional play style with extended drives and 30+ rushes a game, he will have plenty of carries. With a quality offensive line and strong gameplan, Najee Harris could have over a touchdown a game and get close to 1500 rushing yards alone.
Let’s say that Najee Harris ends up winning the Heisman Trophy in 2020. Where would that slot him on the all-time list. Well, he would be cemented in the top three. If he was the clear-cut Heisman winner, he might be the best running back in Alabama football history. However, I don’t see him surpassing Derrick Henry without something changing. Being the third-best running back in Alabama football history is impressive, and it just might be the ceiling for Najee Harris.
With plenty of running backs behind him, Harris won’t be an absolute bell cow for the Tide. However, if he makes the most of his opportunities, his name will be in the conversation with the best running backs to ever wear a Crimson Tide uniform.