Najee Harris Discusses #WeWantToPlay Movement, Preparations for Texas A&M
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Coming off of a three-touchdown, 98 yard performance in Alabama football’s 38-19 win over Missouri, senior running back Najee Harris spoke to the media via Zoom on Tuesday afternoon.
After a lot of uncertainties that surrounding college football this offseason due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Harris said that he is glad that he and his team are back on the field.
Harris was one of the more active members of the #WeWantToPlay movement, throwing support along with other high-profile players like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
“There was a lot of uncertainties coming into the season, especially around the building,” Harris said. “The energy level was like, ‘Are we going to play or not? Why is it taking so long?’ Me and the players from around the conferences — SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac 12, everybody — all of us came together in, I think it’s called the College Player Association, it’s a group message we have. We all came together and said we need to hear our voices. I personally think we made an impact on the college people.
“For them to let us play, it was a lot of relief on our side, the coaches, too. Everybody in Alabama, really, because it could have been taken away from us. For them to let us play was a honor, to let us playing during these tough times.”
After an offseason like no other, Harris shined in the Crimson Tide’s season opener this past weekend. In his 17 rushing attempts, Harris averaged 5.8 yards a carry against a solid Tigers defense.
Harris now sits at No. 14 all-time among Alabama running backs in career rushing yards with 2,475. Former Crimson Tide running back and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry sits at No. 1 all-time with 3,591 rushing yards.
According to Harris, he wasn’t even aware that it was a record that he could potentially break until this past weekend.
“I didn’t know I was on track to do that until I got tagged on something after the game,” Harris said. “It’s not really a goal, it’s not a personal goal. My goal is to become more of a spokesman person, because I suck at that right now with my teammates. I’m not the type of guy to be in front of people and talk, I’m not really that type of guy. I like 1-on-1 more, I like that type of guy. I’m trying to be a better teammate right now, it’s not about numbers.
“I try to work on the stuff I need to improve on, I try to put better stuff on film. Finishing runs, I actually got in trouble for not finishing a run in the game. Not really numbers, just improving more on the stuff I lacked last year. That’s the stuff I look forward to, individually-wise.”
Harris and Alabama return to Bryant-Denny Stadium this coming Saturday for the Crimson Tide’s home opener against Texas A&M. While the Aggies struggled offensively in their first week against Vanderbilt, their defense was able to hold the Commodores to just 10 points.
Harris has no plans of underestimating Texas A&M when it rolls into Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon (2:30 p.m. CT, CBS).
"The whole Texas A&M D-line, defense in general, has a really good defense,” Harris said. “They really do a good job of stopping the run. Their safeties play a huge part in the run game, too. Other than Bobby Brown, the whole front four they have is all good, including the linebackers and the safeties and the DBs they have. Everybody on that team is like a person that we can’t not include in the game plan. Bobby, of course, he’s a good player, too. But the whole front four is all huge, too. They’re all 6-4, 6-5, 300, 200, 280 — they’re all that size, and they all can move.
“So this is going to be another challenge for us, but us as a team is ready for the challenge like always.”