Alabama running back Najee Harris is very good at hurdling people, and his in-game leaps are great for viral moments and his highlight reel.
Last weekend during the Crimson Tide’s 47-23 win over South Carolina, Harris had what we dubbed the most outstanding play of the college football season so far when he stiff-armed one defender, hurdled another and cruised into the end zone. He then did a Megan Rapinoe-inspired celebration pose (and said, “Shout out to her” afterward).
The highlight of 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior destroying basically South Carolina’s whole defense exploded on the internet. Before the season started, Harris described his hurdling moves as instinct, but not everyone loved it, particularly Nick Saban.
The Alabama head coach explained Thursday on his radio show, Hey Coach and The Nick Saban Show, why he’d really prefer Harris to stop hurdling people but won’t go as far as to forbid it.
— Alabama Athletics (@UA_Athletics) September 19, 2019
Talking about Harris’ incredible athleticism, Saban was asked if he shakes his “head in amazement about what these men can do,” and said (around the 48-minute mark):
“Well, yeah, I do. But you know, we’ve not been a big fan — really for safety purposes — of Najee jumping over people. But I guess when you have success doing it — I had a coach once that said you can break any rule to win the game.
“But I do think that Najee had his best game. He played with a lot more confidence in the game. He pressed the line of scrimmage a little bit better on the runs, and he had some real positive downhill runs in the game. I’ve always talked about [how] people don’t really know what a good receiver he is and how good he is in space because of his size, his ability to break tackles.
“He’s got good change of directions, so he’s really hard to get on the ground — a combination of those things — and it showed up on that play he made right before the half on the 4th-and-2. He made a guy miss, he broke a tackle and he jumped over a guy all in one play. So the jumping over part, you know, it worked for him. But I just, from a safety standpoint, we always try to get him to keep his pads down.”
Better Najee Harris hurdle?
– 2018 Tennessee
– 2019 South Carolina pic.twitter.com/dNrCBLJctU
— Brooks Carter (@BrooksACarter) September 14, 2019
Harris has previously agreed that he needs to stop hurdling players. But again, he said it’s instinct. Via AL.com from August:
“There is no thought process,” Harris said. “It’s instinct. I’ve got to cut it out.”
In 2018, Harris finished with 783 yards and four touchdowns on 117 carries.
Here’s a great photo of him not breaking this habit against South Carolina.