There are the glamor records like career passing yardage or touchdown receptions. They’re easily tracked and follow a linear path.
Damien Harris isn’t fighting for one of those.
No, more than halfway through his fourth Alabama season, he’s angling toward one of the obscure yet challenging corners of the school record book. Through 392 carries in a Crimson Tide uniform, Harris is averaging 6.7 yards per attempt.
For a ball carrier with at least 300 attempts, that ranks second only to Eddie Lacy. From 2010-12, Lacy averaged 6.8 yards a run. That’s 2,402 yards in 355 attempts.
Harris’ combination of big plays and positional depth has put him on pace with Lacy who shared backfields with Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson and T.J. Yeldon.
In fact, all three of Alabama’s top running backs this season average at least 6.0 yards per attempt for their career.
“That’s big. That’s big,” said Alabama right tackle Jedrick Wills. “I feel as long as we keep hitting on all cylinders, they’ll continue to do that.”
Najee Harris is getting 6.2 yards a piece in his 130 carries while Josh Jacobs is right at 6.0 on 174 runs.
“I mean, we know that’s what we’re capable of,” Jacobs said. “Right now, we’re just trying to do it consistently and we’re trying to improve each week to make sure we keep having 150-plus yards rushing.”
For Damien Harris, the pace has been steady since emerging from Derrick Henry’s shadow in the 2016 season. Alabama’s running back by committee approach the last three seasons has kept his mileage considerably low compared to the other top rushers in program history.
In fact, in four seasons, Harris still doesn’t have as many combined carries (392) as Henry had in 2015 alone (395).
Just this past Saturday, Damien Harris moved up to No. 10 in Alabama’s career rushing list. He needs just 28 more at Tennessee on Saturday to tie Dennis Riddle who finished with 692 carries (a 4.32-yard average). Nobody in the top-10 list comes close to Harris’ average carry with Henry’s 5.96 on 602 carries being the next-best in that bunch.
A 1,000-yard rusher each of the past two seasons, Harris ran for 7.1 yards a carry as a sophomore and 7.6 last fall. He had five runs of 40-plus yards with two covering more than 70 as a junior.
The big chunk plays haven’t been as plentiful on a whole for the Tide running game this fall. The longest rush through seven games was Damien Harris’ 43-yard touchdown on the first drive at Ole Miss. There have been nine carries that went 20-plus yards compared to 45 in the passing game.
For Damien Harris, the season average sits at 6.5 yards per carry while adding a career-high 149 receiving yards on 12 catches. He’ll need to pick up the pace slightly to move ahead of Lacy’s career average in what could come down to fractions of a yard.
Alabama career rushing leaders
1. Derrick Henry 3,591 yards on 602 attempts (5.96 avg.)
2. Shaun Alexander 3,565 yards on 727 attempts (4.94 avg.)
3. Bobby Humphrey 3,420 yards on 615 attempts (5.56 avg.)
4. Kenneth Darby 3,324 yards on 702 attempts (4.73 avg.)
5. T.J. Yeldon 3,322 yards on 576 attempts (5.76 avg.)
6. Mark Ingram 3,261 yards on 572 attempts (5.70 avg.)
7. Trent Richardson 3,130 yards on 540 attempts (5.79 avg.)
8. Johnny Musso 2,471 yards on 574 attempts (4.78 avg.)
9. Dennis Riddle 2,645 yards on 612 attempts (4.32 avg.)
10. Damien Harris 2,617 yards on 392 attempts (6.67 avg.)