Alabama is on the hunt for its seventh straight recruiting championship. Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of Alabama recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes, and for a glimpse at what’s coming next.
Sarkisian may have a positive impact on Harris’ commitment
Before Alabama had offered Najee Harris and before the team ultimately landed his commitment, Southern California had offered him a scholarship shortly after then-Trojans coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff made a trip to Antioch, Calif. Sarkisian had made Harris a priority for Southern Cal throughout his tenure as the Trojans’ coach.
Alabama confirmed the hiring of Sarkisian as a special assistant to the offense as he gets back on his feet professionally after battling alcoholism.
“We talked about it really quite a while ago and I told him that we’d love to have him as part of the organization,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said at his press conference on Monday. “He’s going through some personal things himself to get himself in a very positive position and wants to continue to do those things in the future and professionally. He loves coaching. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s a very, very good coach.”
Harris was close with Sarkisian when he was at Southern California, and that’s a good thing because the more relationships he has at Alabama, the more likely he is to stick with his commitment.
“Najee was cool with coach Sarks,” a source close to Harris’ recruitment told SEC Country. “Coach Sarks is a really good person. We knew he had a drinking problem when he was at USC, but Najee and I have nothing but love for coach Sarks.”
Harris is also close with Saban, Lane Kiffin, strength coach Scott Cochran, running backs coach Burton Burns and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi. It’s that last name that may be the most important to the Tide’s chances of keeping Harris on board.
When asked how big of a deal it was to Harris that Sarkisian was now at Alabama, the source made it clear that Lupoi being there is important. The assistant has had a relationship with the Harris camp ever since the prospect was an eighth-grader and when Lupoi was an assistant at the University of Washington.
“The real relationship is with coach Lupoi,” the source said. “Tosh believed in me when I told him about Najee years ago when he was at Washington, and I said that he was the next top athlete to come out of the Bay Area.”
Washington is one of the schools looking to flip Harris, along with Southern California, California, UCLA and Michigan. The Trojans are likely the team running in second place. And, before you ask, a 52-6 win over a school he’s also considering doesn’t matter to Harris one bit.
All signs continue to point toward Harris sticking with his commitment, though. As the days go by and I keep talking to more and more people, I am getting more confident with predicting Harris will be a part of the Crimson Tide in 2017.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.