NCS Senior of the Year
NAJEE HARRIS, ANTIOCH
While Harris may not have repeated as our overall Player of the Year after winning the award in 2015, there is no doubt he is one of the premier players in the nation, and arguably the biggest nightmare for a defensive back to see alone in the secondary while carrying the ball.
Harris has had arguably the most decorated high school career of any player in the section since De La Salle’s DJ Williams back in 1999. The NFL-ready comments may or may not be premature, but there is no arguing the fact that Harris is a rare and elite talent, one who can carry a team despite receiving 100 percent of an opposing defense’s attention.
In the post-season, coaches from as far as three hours away drove to see Harris play against California in the section semifinals, citing it as the last guaranteed opportunity to see him play close-up for the reasonable price of $10. Opposing teams continually stacked him up at the line of scrimmage only to see him finally go to the ground after driving piles for five or more yards. And one-on-one in the open field, forget about it; the four-year varsity starter made a habit of placing those players on his weekly highlight films with a stiff arm, shoulder drive, or ridiculous open field move which only showcased his versatility as a runner.
The numbers are staggering. Despite being limited by nagging knee and hamstring issues dating back to summer workouts, Harris still led the section in total rushing yards, carrying the ball for 2,776 yards and 34 touchdowns. He added 260 yards and two touchdowns receiving, and completed his only pass of the season for a 40-yard gain against Deer Valley.
His career numbers are even more mind-blowing, and sound like something out of eight-man football. 8,486 yards from scrimmage and 99 total touchdowns are numbers that players only dream of, and he would have been a lock to score more than 100 times if he had played past the first quarter in numerous blowouts during his junior season.
Even better, from a personal standpoint, is the fact that Harris, like all the other major award winners on this list, handled his accomplishments quietly, preferring to stay away from the spotlight. Encouraging his teammates, talking to young children on the field after games, and working out every day of the week, away from the crowds, were Harris’ preferred methods of both cultivating and enjoying his success and high school experience.
Next stop, major college football, at the University of Alabama in the SEC, where Harris enrolled in classes this week. He is expected to be an immediate impact player for a team now looking to avenge its loss to Clemson in the national championship game. Harris played his final game as a prep athlete this past Saturday, at the US Army All-American game in San Antonio.
Other players considered for this award: Cardinal Newman’s Jordon Brookshire, St. Bernard’s Jack Rice, Clayton Valley Charter’s Koti Vaisima, and Monte Vista’s Nate Landman.