By LARRY VAUGHT
Former Madison Southern standout Damien Harris, who rushed for 6,748 yards and 122 touchdowns in his high school career, picked Alabama over Kentucky and now has won two national championships going into his senior season.
“It was an honor getting to say I made it out and kind of putting the state on the map,” Harris said. “They’ve had other guys recruited since then. It was a great feeling, especially when Kentucky is looked at as a basketball state. That’s just kind of the mindset that it’s not really a football state. I’m glad to be where I am, but I’m also glad to be where I’m from.”
Harris opted to return to Alabama for his senior season rather than go to the NFL and now is projected as the top running back in the SEC — a projection that Kentucky junior running back Benny Snell obviously does not agree with (Harris and Snell were both named to the preseason all-SEC first team in voting at the SEC Media Days last week).
Harris says there no chance of any complacency for him or his teammates due to coach Nick Saban — much like UK basketball players say the same thing about John Calipari.
“No matter who we are playing, no matter what week it is in the season, whether we are playing a power five team or not, or whether we are playing in the national championship or not, one thing that we always focus on is just being the best team we can be,” Harris said at the SEC Media Days. “We are confident in the fact that if we play our best football, offense, defense and special teams, that we are capable of being the best team in the country , year in and year out.”
Harris also made it clear that Alabama players get the same royal treatment in Tuscaloosa that UK basketball players do in Lexington.
“I love being a part of the University of Alabama. The mindset across the entire University of Alabama is that we are champions, whether it is from an academic standpoint or an athletic standpoint. I love walking down the street in Tuscaloosa and somebody rolling down their windows when they drive by and are yelling ‘Roll Tide,’” Harris said.
“There are just so many things about being a part of the University of Alabama and living in Tuscaloosa that bring us so much joy as athletes. Coming back for my senior year wasn’t hard.”
Now that is one difference from Kentucky basketball because Calipari seldom gets a player to come back for a second year, much less a senior season.