Najee Harris’ decision to stay with Alabama instead of flipping to Michigan sets up the Crimson Tide for another five years of winning football.
It was a recruiting saga to be remembered for years to come.
There were no misleading tweets. There was never an official decommitment, nor were there any moments where Najee Harris craved attention.
The No. 1 overall player in the country is going to play collegiate football at Alabama, and he handled it the way many college football fans wish recruits would. He stayed relatively silent, kept his mind on football and trusted the process.
Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, keeping Harris means much more than tightening its grip on the top recruiting class in the rankings.
Think about the stakes.
The Alabama staff, for the first time, was challenged head-on by this current Michigan staff for a high-profile prospect. It was straight-up: the never satisfied, always dialed in Nick Saban versus the upbeat, controversial Jim Harbaugh. And Alabama won.
That, in itself, is a huge deal. Yes, it’s the Crimson Tide. And, yes, blue-chip recruits have gone to Tuscaloosa for years. But the Wolverines have been recruiting at an elite level, and the fact Harris turned down the early playing time, the Jordan Brand jerseys, the chance to play for Harbaugh and in the Big Ten says a lot.
It says Alabama is still Alabama. Saban is still Saban. And as long as they’re together, the reign shall continue.
From a recruiting perspective, the Tide can use this situation as the framework for future recruiting battles. But when shifting the thought process to the future depth chart situation in T-Town, Harris brings much more than a 5-star rating.
While Bo Scarbrough is technically eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft, he’ll more than likely return to Alabama for his redshirt-junior season to boost his stock. Damien Harris will be back next season, and if Scarbrough continues to emerge as the bell cow, we may just see a situation in which Harris stays in school for his senior season — in order to be the guy.
And don’t forget about B.J. Emmons, the No. 4-ranked halfback from the 2016 class, or Joshua Jacobs, who was the No. 1 running back out of Oklahoma in the same cycle.
Assuming both Emmons and Jacobs max out their eligibility, the Crimson Tide are now set at running back through 2019, possibly 2020. If Najee Harris takes a redshirt and does the same, he’ll be the main attraction in the Alabama backfield no later than the 2021 season.
When considering 4-star running back Brian Robinson is also committed to Alabama, Tide tailbacks will be running over collegiate defenders for the next half decade.
Najee reaffirmed his commitment to Alabama because of his relationship with the coaches and the fact there is a long line of great ball carriers who ran straight through Tuscaloosa en route to the NFL.
He chose to bury himself on a depth chart because he trusted The Process.
It won’t end. If anything, Najee Harris’ decision was a clear reminder that Alabama is still the gold standard.