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Najee Harris Ready to Lead Alabama

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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As the Crimson Tide work towards a return to the College Football Playoff, they will, with Najee Harris, hit the ground running.

The return of Najee Harris to Alabama gives the Crimson Tide a star at the running back position, an offensive centerpiece and a leading Heisman Trophy candidate entering 2020. His decision to come back to Tuscaloosa is a big one. Harris rushed for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, adding 27 receptions for 304 yards and seven more scores. Following in the footsteps of some of the greatest running backs in modern history, Harris, continuing the tradition at Alabama, is the next-in-line.

As the Crimson Tide work towards a return to the College Football Playoff, they will, with Harris, hit the ground running.

Relatively quietly, Harris, developing into a dual-threat option, had a year for the ages as a junior. He is the only player this millennium with at least 1,200 yards rushing, a dozen rushing scores and seven touchdown receptions in a single season. He was, quite literally, a one-of-a-kind playmaker, especially when it came to redzone production. That remarkable ability is now part of Alabama's foundation moving forward.

A year ago, Harris really turned it on as the season settled in. He rushed for at least 85 yards in seven consecutive FBS contests to finish the year, scoring 15 total touchdowns in the Crimson Tide's last seven games. Harris, among other standout performances, ran for 146 yards and a touchdown, catching three passes for 44 yards in a score, in Alabama's showdown with eventual national champion LSU. In college football's signature game of the season, Harris was one of the premier players on the field.

The spotlight has been where Harris, who made a name for himself as a true freshman in the national championship game, has been at his best. In three games against ranked opponents last year, he, facing the aforementioned Tigers, Auburn and Michigan, rushed for 428 yards and four touchdowns, topping the 135-yard mark each time. Harris' two most recent games, the Iron Bowl and Citrus Bowl, came with the two highest rushing attempt totals, 27 and 24, of his career; consider it a sign of things to come. Alabama has identified its new offensive focal point. 

Momentum, for Harris, is very much in place. His recent announcement that he was returning to school has already given the Crimson Tide a boost -- and for good reason. Harris will enter 2020 as one of college football's most accomplished running backs and his workload, given his finish to the season and his fit for the future, is only set to increase. All that Harris has done and can do will be the starting point for another dominant Alabama offense. Technically-speaking, his first game of the year were the first steps towards a banner season.  

Wins are the numbers Harris will playing a leading role in reaching. The Crimson Tide, on a relative two-year national championship and three-year SEC title drought, are undoubtedly hungry. Harris, back for one more run, is ready to eat. If the Citrus Bowl was any example, Alabama is ready to feed him. Though the Crimson Tide, given the talent on the roster, see the return of DeVonta Smith, will surely having one of the nation's best passing attacks, Harris is ready for a grand finale himself.   

The sprint towards the 2020 season has already started; Harris gives his team a head start.

A truly unique talent with game-changing ability as both a runner and a receiver, Harris, fresh off a season the likes of which recent college football hasn't before seen, is ready for even more. His return has Alabama ready to go.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports