By Marq Burnett
TUSCALOOSA — Shortly after former five-star prospect T.J. Yeldon announced his decision to turn pro, another five-star running back committed to Alabama.
Damien Harris, from Berea, Ky, picked the Crimson Tide over Kentucky and Ohio State in a ceremony at his high school, Madison Southern.
“I decided I’m going to further my education and get a degree and continue a football career at the University of Alabama. Roll Tide,” Harris said during the ceremony.
At 5-foot-11, 205 pounds, Harris reportedly runs a 4.4 40-yard dash. He’s the top player from the state of Kentucky and the No. 2 overall running back, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. He also ranks as at top-40 prospect overall, according to 247Sports Composite rankings.
Rivals.com ranks Harris as the top running back prospect in the nation and the 11th best prospect overall. ESPN.com tabbed Harris as the second-best running back prospect in the country.
Despite missing part of his senior season with injuries, Harris rushed for 1,576 yards and 23 touchdowns on 97 carries this year. That’s an average of 16.2 yards per carry. For his career at Madison Southern, Harris ran for 6,717 yards and 111 touchdowns.
“It’s a hard decision, because all three schools are great schools, but at the end of the day I got the feeling that Alabama would develop me academically and physically as an athlete,” Harris told reporters. “Alabama, they just said come join the dynasty. They’re a national championship contender every year and that’s the type of program they’ve developed.”
Even with Yeldon moving on, Alabama’s backfield is still pretty crowded. Derrick Henry projects to be the No. 1 tailback after spending the 2014 season as Yeldon’s backup. Rising senior Kenyan Drake will be back from injury. Altee Tenpenny and Tyren Jones will be looking for carries. In this cycle, Alabama added running back DeSherrius Flowers and Bo Scarbrough, both of whom enrolled in January.
But with the Tide believing in splitting carries between backs, Harris wasn’t scared off by the numbers.
“I’m not afraid of playing time or competition with another back in my class,” Harris told reporters. “It could also be helpful. I could help him out, or he could help me out and both of us wouldn’t take a beating over the course of the season.”
Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @Marq_Burnett.