Turns out, especially in this day and age, running backs don’t like to hear that they can’t catch. Or even have it suggested that they were once not great at it. Because Alabama running back Najee Harris recently ripped into draft analyst Todd McShay a bit for his scouting report in which he indicated that he showed improvement in the passing game this past season.
Harris’ following remarks came while appearing as a guest on Adam Schefter’s podcast, during which he read McShay’s scouting report and asked what he thought of it. “I think that he could kiss my ass”, he said, which is not a great start. “How is he gonna say that he saw better production in my passing ability?”.
“I didn’t have an opportunity to show I could catch. It’s not because I can’t, it’s because I wasn’t in the game to show people I could catch”, Harris argued, noting that he didn’t get many opportunities to play in passing situations (or otherwise) in Alabama’s offense during his first two seasons. “So let’s just stop looking at a stat sheet and watch the game”.
“Junior year, I had more opportunities. I led the country in receiving touchdowns as a running back”, he noted. “Why is that? Well, maybe because I got more opportunities to catch the ball. You don’t need to pass the ball to a running back if you have [Jerry] Jeudy, first-rounder, [Henry] Ruggs, first-rounder, [DeVonta Smith], first-rounder, [Jaylen] Waddle, first-rounder. What do you need to pass the ball to a running back for?”.
Jeudy and Ruggs were both first-round picks last year, by the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders, respectively, two of Alabama’s top two wide receivers. Their other two top receivers, Smith and Waddle, are coming out this year, and both are expected to be first-round picks as well.
“It’s not because I can’t catch. It’s because I never had the opportunity to catch”, Harris re-emphasized. “Now, next year, senior year, I’m used more in the pass game because Ruggs and Jeudy left, so now my role steps up in the pass game, and also running game, and also pass blocking, because there’s nobody on the edge really other than the two guys we got”.
Harris caught 43 passes last season for the Crimson Tide for 425 yards with four receiving touchdowns. The year before that, he caught 27 passes for 304 yards and had seven receiving touchdowns. By the way, he also had 39 rushing touchdowns during those two seasons, so he’s pretty good at scoring generally.