ANTIOCH, Calif. (KGO) —
The Alabama Crimson Tide faces the Clemson Tigers on Monday night on our sister station ESPN for the National Championship. Many people in the East Bay will be focused on one Alabama player, number 22 Najee Harris of Antioch.
Go online and search for Harris and you’ll find video of plays made by the star running back.
One commentator said, “And now Harris bounces it, Najee Harris in the clean and powerful run, still battling and swung out inside the ten by Smith.”
Before he was an explosive running back for Alabama, Harris weight-trained with Marcus Malu of Antioch. It was during his freshman year at Antioch High School, that Malu decided to mentor him.
“We just ended up clicking and I asked him what do you want to do? He was like, well I heard you’re a trainer. Well, we can work, so we just started working,” explained Malu at his training facility called Malu Fitness in Antioch.
Harris was raised by his mother. At times they were homeless, but Malu says his focus was always on the game.
“What he’s gone through and what he’s lived through, for 2-3 hours he doesn’t have to worry about that, he just leaves everything out and leave it one the field,” said Malu.
“He broke all of the career Antioch High School records just in his sophomore year alone,” said Assistant head coach for the Antioch Football Panthers who helped coach Harris for several years.
His senior year Harris was considered the nation’s top recruit. He ended up picking Alabama.
So what is it about Alabama football and all the enthusiasm that people in the Bay Area don’t get?
“Maybe because they don’t have an NFL team down there but that is the soul, the purpose of the state essentially,” explained Assistant Coach Dudley.
Both Malu and Dudley will be there Monday night to watch him.
“It’s always different when you come home. Whether you get seven or eight or even nine carries, you make those because the whole Bay Area is going to be out cheering for you,” said Malu with a smile.
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