The last two years have been a big adjustment for Najee Harris. Going from Antioch, Calif., to Tuscaloosa, Ala., everything was different. From the humidity, to the food, to the culture, this was unfamiliar.
So was the football.
Harris, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, is one of the greatest high school football players in Bay Area history. He rushed for nearly 8,000 career yards at Antioch High School. He was one of the top recruits in the nation. Then the running back arrived at the University of Alabama quickly feeling homesick and searching for carries.
In the biggest game of his life though, Harris showed off his skills under the brightest lights. The story was all about Tua Tagovailoa taking over at halftime of the title game last year, but joining him as the Crimson Tide's running back was Harris.
On only six carries, he led Alabama with 64 yards rushing, all coming in the second half of their thrilling 26-23 win over Georgia.
"It's not really a confidence builder, it didn't spark me at all," Harris said Saturday at Media Day. "I know what I can do when I get in the game. I'm not really shocked or amazed by what I can do."
As a sophomore, Harris is again sharing carries in Alabama's loaded backfield. He's second on the team in rushing yards (724) and third in carries (108), but leads by a large margin with his 6.7 yards per carry.
"To be honest, yeah," Harris said when asked if it's tough waiting your turn for the ball. "I think for any running back it would be. But you just gotta wait for your opportunity, and when you get in the game, show you're ready."
After Alabama's clash with the Clemson Tigers, Harris will have at least one more season in college before turning pro, the same year the East Bay native will see the Raiders leave Oakland for Las Vegas.
"Man, that's crazy," Harris said. "It's crazy how they're taking everything out of Oakland. With everything going on out there, the kids can go to something right now. That's sad right there."
But first, it's time for at least one more ring.
Harris will be ready come Monday in his second College Football Playoff National Championship, this time at Levi's Stadium, home to the team he roots for halfway across the country. He's expected to have plenty of family, friends and former coaches in attendance, but nothing like the reported hundreds that will be there for Tagovailoa.
"Never more than Tua," Harris said with a laugh. "Never."