Alabama Football: Predicting Najee Harris’s stats for 2020

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Najee Harris is set to do amazing things for Alabama football.

Last season, Najee Harris was a star at running back for Alabama football. Harris was second-team All-SEC after racking up 1224 rushing yards. This impact was a savior for the Crimson Tide in many ways. With Brian Robinson not living up to the hype and Trey Sanders being injured before the 2019 season began, the Crimson Tide desperately needed Harris to become a work horse as the team’s starting running back.

When Tua Tagovailoa went down, the need for Harris to succeed became even more dire. In the final two games against ranked opponents after Tua went down with a hip injury, Najee ran the football over 50 times and averaged 141 yards a game. With Alabama football losing two star receivers and having a quarterback battle, the revival of a consistent run game will be key in 2020. With that being said, let’s predict Najee Harris’s stats for 2020.

What will Najee do for Alabama football in 2020?

Before we just throw out numbers, there are a few things that we must consider. First, let’s look at the competition on the roster. With Trey Sanders being healthy, he will almost certainly get some carries. However, I think that he will be more of a third-down back or a way to give Najee some rest during a game. Most of his reps will hopefully come late in games once the score is already settled.

You also need to take into consideration how many carries Najee will likely get in 2020. He had 209 rushes in 2019, and that was in an offense with a focus on the passing game. It’s not uncommon for Tide running backs to get over 250 carries, but I don’t see that happening this season. Sanders will get significant carries, and the Tide still have two superstars at wide receiver. I think Najee will get somewhere in the 215-carry range.

Now, let’s look at yards. As total carries increase, average yards per carry tend to decrease as the value of one big-shot play goes down. However, I think Najee will get slightly more yards per carry in 2020. I’ll predict 6.4 yards a carry due to Harris simply being a better player placed in better opportunities.

As for touchdowns, I think Harris will score at least a touchdown per game on average. He will get more opportunities in the red zone, especially with Tua’s touch no longer being on the team. Let’s say 16 rushing touchdowns.

The only other piece to predict is his receiving role. I think this is an underrated part of Najee’s game with Alabama football, but it will also decrease in 2020. Najee did this out of necessity in 2019, but Sanders will be able to do similar things next year. I think Alabama will go back to having Najee Harris catch passes simply to give him the ball in space. Let’s say he only catches 20 passes for 5 touchdowns and 200 yards.

Recap: 215 rushes, 1376 yards, 16 touchdowns, 20 receptions, 200 receiving yards, 5 receiving touchdowns

These numbers would be a balance between progress as a rusher and regression as a receiver. With Trey Sanders likely being the next great pass-catcher for Alabama football, this would make a ton of sense. Najee will be a better player, but the numbers won’t have a major spike.

Next. 3 realistic expectations for Tide in 2020. dark

These numbers would not be enough to win Najee Harris the Heisman Trophy, but it would likely be enough to get the Crimson Tide to the College Football Playoff.