Photo Credit: 247Sports

5-star Najee Harris is important but not vital for Crimson Tide

Photo Credit: 247Sports

Running back Najee Harris is the No. 1 2017 recruit in the nation. Naturally, he’s a five-star and not surprisingly, he’s committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Harris committed to Alabama back in April of 2015, and he’s the Tide’s top-ranked recruit. That says a lot, considering that Nick Saban’s 2017 class is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation, only behind the No. 1 class at Ohio State.

Saban has long been a master on the recruiting trail, and the results speak for themselves. He’s boasted the top recruiting class in the nation every cycle since 2011, bringing in five-star players such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Landon Collins, T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, O.J. Howard, A’Shawn Robinson, Cam Robinson, Da’Shawn Hand, Calvin Ridley, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Blake Barnett (now transferred), Ben Davis, Mack Wilson and Jonah Williamson in the process.

The crazy thing about the list above is that it doesn’t even mention all of Saban’s five stars since the 2011 cycle, and it doesn’t even factor in the 2017 class. Harris is just one of four five-star 2017 commitments for the Tide, joining outside linebacker Dylan Moses, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood and dual-threat quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

Alabama is a five-star factory, and especially at the running back position, the Tide seemingly never run out of elite options.

That’s what makes Harris’ recent comments to Jim Halley of USA TODAY High School Sports not exactly surprising. It’s also what makes the comments not worth worrying about for the Alabama staff.

Harris, who is planning on being an early enrollee, does plan on taking all of his official visits. That’s big news because just about every major school in college football is (still) after his commitment, and he told Halley that he’s not exactly sold on Alabama just yet — despite his commitment.

“I’m going to take my five visits, but I just don’t know where,” Harris said. “Let’s say this: My mind isn’t set on Alabama. I’m not 100 percent set on Alabama. I’m trying to see what else is out there for me. I’m using my visits to see. As much attention as I’ve gotten, I feel like I have helped my teammates get some offers, too.”

For any other program in college football the prospect of losing the top overall recruit in the nation would be terrifying. No. 1 overall recruits are often program-changers, especially at such a high-impact position like running back.  Harris has the raw talent to potentially be a Heisman candidate when all is said and done and if he lives up to his potential the NFL will come calling. That type of player can singlehandedly win games for a program, which makes that type of player really tough to lose on the recruiting trail.

For Alabama, though, it’s a different story.

17 September 2016: Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban prior to the Alabama Crimson Tide 48-43 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Andy Altenburger/Icon Sportswire)

Saban stockpiles talent, and if he loses one player he simply replaces said player with an equally talented if not better player. That doesn’t mean the Tide should treat the recruitment of Harris lightly or simply just let him get away, but if Harris does end up flipping his commitment elsewhere, it’s pretty easy to predict that Alabama will be just fine.

Alabama currently has a depth chart of seven at running back, with Damien Harris (former five-star),  Joshua Jacobs (former three-star) and Bo Scarbrough (former five-star) leading the way. The Crimson Tide also have another 2017 running back committed in Brian Robinson, who’s playing high school football in Alabama’s backyard  — he’s from Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Hillcrest). Robinson may not have the recruiting profile of Harris, but he’s still ranked the No. 12 2017 running back in America. He committed to the Crimson Tide over Auburn, Georgia, Louisville, Ole Miss and South Carolina among others.

That doesn’t even mention what the Crimson Tide have coming down the pipeline.

Alabama already has one running back commit as part of its 2018 class, Dameon Pierce from Bainbridge, Ga. (Bainbridge). Pierce is 5-foot-11, 205 pounds and is ranked as the No. 5 running back in his class, according to the 247Sports composite. More elite recruits will be on the way with Pierce and that’s not even counting anyone else Saban can get to sign up with the 2017 class.

Harris will obviously be the headliner of said class if he sticks around, but the point here is that if he doesn’t, don’t expect Saban to lose any sleep.

5-star Najee Harris is important but not vital for Crimson Tide
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