One thing stands out when studying prospects for the 2017 NFL Draft. No matter the size of the school they play at, be it a Florida State, North Dakota State, or a Division 3 school, they always seem to be a big Fish in a small Pond. Not to say the players around them, or the competition isn’t up to par, but that they always seem to stand out as a man amongst boys.
Enter, LB Najee Harris, from little known Wagner college. The 6’1, 240 lbs, prospect is a rising star amongst prospects and scouts alike. Built like a middle linebacker with the speed of a safety, Harris shows plenty of range on tape, as he can stay in the box and stop the run, and cover tight ends, wideouts, and running backs easily.
A Norristown, PA native, Harris knew growing up in a small town playing for a lesser known school, it was important to outwork everyone..refusing to think small.
“Growing up in Norristown, it was tough as far as it being a small area. Lesser known, but my Mother and Father kept me, my brothers, and my sister, pretty down to earth. They raised us right. My Mom and Dad split and we would go back and forth, We lived with my Mom on one side of the track, where it was the nicer side of Norristown. Then we would go stay with our Dad on the weekends and it was the hard part of town, where we got to see how hard it can be for people. So it really served us, and humbled me and my siblings, growing up…we knew we were rich with family and love, so we were lucky that way.
Growing up in this small town life, it would’ve been easy to fall in the trap of thinking small, being small, living small. It was kind of the mindset everywhere. Going to school, I can remember playing my last high school game, and I went to my coach after and asked him what was next. He just looked at me and said “I guess go through the division 2 offers” and that really took me back…but in the long run I understood, and I am so happy I went to Wagner. I am proud to represent this school..and always will. As far as all these people saying this and that about a small school player…. there is no small football, there really isn’t ..football is football.
When you put that helmet on and we run that play, I will show them why I belong. If I have to prove myself to my coaches everyday, I will. I have no problem earning it everyday, that is the way I have done it my whole life, since pop warner days, and it won’t change for me now.”
With 158 tackles, 4 interceptions, and a forced fumble, Harris has the skill set to be an every down LB. To go along with his speed, he carries the strength to be an ILB and is capable of keeping blocks off of his body. With great vision in the run game and laser like focus, he is a missile when diagnosing plays and chasing the offense.
When watching the tape and looking at his playmaking ability, Harris kind of reminds you of a Philadelphia legend, Brian Dawkins (His favorite player). Now I am not saying he will be Dawkins, no one will. What I am saying is he has the pure talent, speed and skill set to be a true difference maker for the birds, and could be an amazing mixture of LB/S.
“Brian Dawkins is the greatest, I get my on field swag from him, I see how he made a difference by doing his job. He always did what was needed, and made a play, made some crazy play. That is what I want to do, that is what I emulated growing up, and in college.
Whatever team I end up on, I am going to get to work. They are getting a guy who is going to go all in all the time, and bust my butt for my team, and my city. I am blessed to be in this position, I am blessed to be able to have this chance, so I will not mess it up. I just cant wait to make plays, to go out there and learn, and be the best version of me. Don’t be fooled by the Small college thing, Wagner has talent and I am one of them. All I need is the call, and I will work my butt off to be the difference maker I can be.”
The Eagles, invited Harris to work him out at their Pro day, so there is some interest there. It will interesting to see how he tests for Howie and company. Perhaps even more interesting is where a player of such a strong skill set will end up playing. It has been a while since the City of Brotherly Love had a player like Brian Dawkins, who was a leader on and off the field, while destroying offensive opponents. Maybe, just maybe..Najee Harris could be that guy. One thing’s for sure, he has the “IT” factor to be a star one day.
Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports
Sports Journalist, Novelist, Covers all things Philadelphia Eagles, College Prospect Analyst, Voice contributor For NFL Radio ,Creator of the Small School Gem’s Series (PSN), Writer for -=+ Magazine, ARMY Veteran/War Veteran (OIF/OEF) ,Husband and Father.