Michigan landed the No. 1 prospect in the country last season in Rashan Gary. In the 2016 cycle, the Wolverines are attempting to do the same.
And this time, his name is Najee Harris.
From Antioch, Calif., the 5-star running back is as unique as it gets – both on and off the field. He has no Twitter account, he posts nothing about his recruitment on his Instagram, he despises interviews. He is like the recruiting world’s Dos Equis guy – he’s the most interesting recruit in the world.
And there’s reason for that beyond just his God-loving, media silent, personality. Harris is flat-out really good at running the football.
He’s rated the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect by the 247Sports composite. He’s been called the next Adrian Peterson, and the most exciting running back prospect since Leonard Fournette, all with the charisma of Jabrill Peppers.
But why? Why is he rated so high? Why has Michigan pulled out all of its stops to try and get the Alabama commit to flip from the Tide in the South to the Wolverines in the North?
Here are three highlights, and two interviews, that prove Harris worthy of his high rankings.
He never stops running
Yeah, so that was really good.
The last highlight, beginning at 1:09, was the touchdown. But the runs before it were as impressive. His relentlessness with the ball, and just how low he runs, is as good as I’ve ever seen from a high school film.
A lot of guys can outrun defenses in high school and make their tapes look phenomenal based on speed. But Harris is a bulldozer. He targets the guy in front of him and already knows how he’s going to beat him, then immediately shifts his focus to the next defender. And if there are two, then he does the same thing. It almost always takes multiple guys to get this guy down.
His cuts are as impressive as a senior tape has ever shown
I mean, it’s just absurd. His ability to run over guys was showcased in the last clip, but in this one, he’s making cuts like he’s eating a Jim Harbaugh steak (served with milk).
At the 15-second mark, he makes a guy go from taking a good angle to having his back to him in the matter of a second.
So while his truck-stick ability has enough to it to put him as a high-end prospect, his ability to make guys miss elevates him to another kind of back.
7 broken tackles in nine seconds showcases elite balance
If you haven't yet, meet college football's next big-time running back ― Najee Harris.
(via hurdles/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/e72KUKMMcb
— ThePostGame.com (@ThePostGame) December 20, 2016
And if those top two weren’t enough, this is my favorite Harris highlight of his entire prep career. He breaks seven (!!) tackles in nine seconds.
A trait about a running back that often goes unnoticed is balance. His balance is the best I’ve seen from a high school back in a decade. It’s the edge he might have on Fournette coming out of high school.
His ability to stay low, fight through tackles, use a hand to stay up … then score. It’s exactly why he’s the best in the country.
And it’s exactly why Michigan has put it all on the line to get him, and exactly why Alabama is doing the same to keep him.
His charisma and personality off the field
Harris wins the MVP of this tournament, and immediately shies away from the question regarding his award to speak about his team.
And you can tell this isn’t an act. By all accounts, the kid loves to be a part of a team. He loves to be a leader of said team, too. And it’s evident in that interview above.
So if those highlights didn’t convince you of his abilities, and the short one above didn’t give you a good enough idea of Harris as a person, then watch this:
We still don’t know when, or if, Harris will announce anything. He might just show up to one of the two schools. But he will play in the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7 and may just announce at that time.