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Top recruit Najee Harris eagerly awaits bigger role at Alabama

Top recruit Najee Harris eagerly awaits bigger role at Alabama
Published On: Fri, Jul 06
Sep 12, 2015; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; DUPLICATE***Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Cyrus Jones (5) tackles Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders running back Jordan Parker (6)at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly six months later, the images of Alabama running back Najee Harris in college footballa€™s national-championship game remain vivid: bursting into the open, bouncing off tacklers, making a loud splash on the sporta€™s biggest stage.

Now hea€™s eager for an encore.

Harris, the countrya€™s No. 1 recruit in the class of 2017 at Antioch High School, peers toward the start of training camp early next month with a curious mix of bravado and skepticism. His six-carry, 64-yard performance in the title game might have showed the world his readiness, but he already brimmed with quiet confidence.

Thata€™s why he contemplated leaving Alabama after his freshman season, frustrated by sparse playing time. And thata€™s also why he ultimately stayed, figuring Alabama still offers the best path to the NFL.

Harris wasna€™t allowed to talk to the media as a freshman, per school policy. But he sat down with The Chronicle during a recent visit to the Bay Area, to reflect on his inaugural year in college and look ahead to the upcoming season.

a€œThe only thing I can tell you is, I hope Ia€™m on the field more,a€ Harris said. a€œLast year was the worst feeling. That whole season was mentally challenging.a€

Harris grew up on the West Coast, bouncing between the Bay Area and Seattle before settling in Antioch for his high school years. He became accustomed to smoking-hot summer days on the delta, but ita€™s not the South.

Harris spent much of last summer and most of this June in Tuscaloosa, Ala., immersed in training, and he routinely awoke at 5 or 5:30 a.m. for workouts. His first step outside still reminded him he was no longer in Northern California.

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