5-star RB Najee Harris Feels No Pressure

May 22 -- The No. 1 prospect in the 2017 class, Antioch (Calif.) running back Najee Harris, feels no pressure at the top of the rankings nor in the recruiting process...

Antioch (Calif.) running back Najee Harris was back in Oakland on Sunday for the second straight year at The Opening Oakland Regional.


A year ago, the then-sophomore earned RB MVP honors and punched his ticket to The Opening Finals, a tough feat for an underclassmen to pull.

Harris will try to make it 2-for-2 later today when the camp is complete, both in repeating as MVP and earning a spot in Beaverton again.

The five-star makes everything look easy- running the ball, catching the ball, blocking, handling the recruiting process and the pressure that comes with being the No. 1 prospect in all the land.

Because to Harris, "it's just playing football."

In a time where pressure mounts on the top recruits -- where will they commit, will they decommit, are they as good as advertised -- Harris doesn't bat an eye at the pressure, the expectations or any of the talk.

"I motivate myself to just be the best player I can be," said Harris.  "It's nice to be ranked number one, I appreciate that, but it's just playing football.  None of that other mess bothers me.  The recruiting, it is what it is.  The ranking, it's nice, but I just go out and prove what I need to myself.  What matters is how I perform.  If I was No. 7 and I performed well, I'd still be proud of myself.  But if I perform poorly and I'm No. 7, then I shouldn't be in the top ten.  I just feel like I have a lot to work on to be the best and to be proud of myself."

Not that Harris is bored by the process or the rankings, it's just not a high priority for him.

"It not that it is boring, I just have more stuff to worry about then the attention so I don't focus on it," said Harris.

Harris committed to Alabama last April and then saw the Tide win the 2015 National Championship and running back Derrick Henry win the Heisman Trophy.  

Harris often draws comparisons to Henry, a former five-star back himself, but to Harris, the comparisons are easy to ignore.

"Honestly, I'm just trying to be the best I can be and I don't really listen to the comparisons," said Harris.

Alabama is doing everything it can to hold on to Harris but a number of schools have come by.

"Nebraska, Cal, Notre Dame, Michigan, LSU, USC, UCLA, I can't remember them all.  There have been a lot of schools coming by," said Harris.

Harris hasn't visited Alabama since last year, and had hoped to visit in June, but that is likely getting pushed back.

"I was supposed to go in June, but I'm going to take the SAT that day (June 4) so I don't know when I'll get out there again, but summer maybe," said Harris.

Harris is planning to get back to Ohio State, after visiting for their Spring Game.

"I know I'm going to go back to Ohio State, I just don't know when, but in summer too," said Harris.  

Ohio State saw Ezekiel Elliott go No. 4 in the draft and Henry win a Heisman at Alabama.  Neither moved the needle a whole lot with Harris, but he said it did catch his attention.

"I mean, it's cool for him (Elliott) to get drafted high and Derrick to win a Heisman, but it doesn't affect me a whole lot," said Harris.  "I mean, maybe a little, but not a lot.  I'm a different back then them.  I guess it means something."

UCLA and USC have gotten visits from him a couple of times each and he could go back down to Los Angeles this summer too.

"Kennedy Polamalu and Angus [McClure] are recruiting me for UCLA, and Coach [Jim] Mora too.  Both Coach Polamalu and Angus came up here (this spring)," said Harris.  "I liked it down there at UCLA.  It was cool, really cool."

Across town, he has a new recruiter.

"The new running backs coach [Tommie Robinson] is recruiting me and Tyson Helton too," said Harris.  "Johnny Nansen was the first one at USC to really recruit me, but he's the linebacker coach now so he doesn't really come up here."

Then of course, Alabama continues to stay on Harris and try to keep him in the fold.

"Tosh [Lupoi] is my recruiting coordinator for this area but Coach [Burton] Burns and Lane Kiffin have come up here a couple times," said Harris.  "Coach [Nick] Saban wants me to call him once a week.  I call him, usually it's a short talk."

Mostly because the recruiting game isn't something that Harris really enjoys.

"I'm excited to go to college and I'm happy I'll be going to college, so it's part of it I guess," said Harris.  "The process is what it is."

Harris does like that his teammates are getting a chance to be seen by coaches.

"It's not really me bringing them to see my teammates, it's just helping them.  I get help from my teammates to be the player that I am so I'm just helping them now but the coaches come to see them because they're good," said Harris.

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