SAN RAMON, Calif. -- It's easy to mistake Najee Harris for a junior - a college junior - but yes, he is still just a sophomore, albeit one of the most coveted sophomores in the country.
At a well-muscled 6-foot-3, and easily 180 pounds, Harris has the small waist and broad shoulders - and, let's face it, the dreads - of another recent NorCal product of great renown: Shaq Thompson. Harris - like Thompson - plays running back, but also has spent time on the defensive side of the ball as a safety/linebacker. His long arms and wide wingspan would seem to service the latter, rather than the former, since he still needs to add some bulk to his lower half, but there's no doubt that Harris is an elite athlete, as he showed at the Kenion Training 7-on-7 Kickoff on Sunday.
Harris recently pulled down offers from Arizona, Ole Miss and Alabama, and now has 12 offers under his belt in total. Kansas State has also started a dialogue.
“Those are two pretty big schools,” Harris said of the Wildcats and Rebels. “It was very exciting to get my first two SEC offers, with Ole Miss and Alabama.”
What does Harris like most about his newest suitors?
“The competition,” said the Antioch (Calif.) 2017 prospect. “Especially the SEC. I like competition, and the SEC has the most competition. That's pretty good. I was talking to the Arizona coaches, when I got offered, and they bring out some of the best players, like Darrelle Revis and LeSean McCoy that come out during the spring.”
California holds a special place in Harris's heart, since former running backs coach and current receivers coach Pierre Ingram (“He's my boy!” says Harris) became the first to offer him.
“Cal's my first offer, so I show Cal much respect,” Harris said. “They're my first offer. They're the ones who believed in me, so I've got to give them some respect. That's about to be a team to watch out for, this year. They're going to have another good recruiting class. They're going to be good.”
One of the big reasons the Bears are in the running is Ingram.
“We're very close,” Harris said. “He comes from where I come from. That means a lot, to come from where I come from, to be a young black guy, from struggles. He's been the same place where I was.”
Harris plans on going to several junior days, but doesn't have them mapped out, specifically. He does know that he'll be going back to Alabama for a second trip, after he went out to Tuscaloosa just last week.
“It was nice,” Harris said. “The energy, the vibe, everything is close to everything. You don't have to drive. Everything is walking distance. That's cool.”