Najee Harris wasn’t scheduled to run in the full-squad Alabama pro day in late March, because he was still rehabbing a minor offseason injury.
But the running back still wanted to be there at the team’s practice facility to support his Alabama teammates.
When his flight from Dallas to Birmingham, Alabama the night beforehand was canceled, Harris drove nine hours through the night to get there.
That left an impression on Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin, who were in Tuscaloosa to see the rest of the Alabama squad work out, but already had developed an interest in Harris.
“That really struck a chord with Coach (Tomlin) and I,” Colbert said. “Again, we couldn’t interact with him, but to watch him interact with his teammates while they were going through their pro days was truly special, and we had a few folks go back down for the second pro day when he did do some work.”
Harris said he wasn’t worried about the impact his decision to come support his teammates would have on the executives and coaches there that might be interested in drafting him, and that he just wanted to be there for his teammates.
“My decision to support my teammates was solely because throughout the four years I spent at Alabama, I’ve got a lot of memories with them, especially in the sport of football,” Harris said. “You go through a lot of stuff with training day, so it makes the bond become bigger and bigger. My flight was canceled, so it was around 8 or 9 at night and I took it to myself — my agent was mad at me — but I took it to myself to say I really want to support my teammates and the juniors that performed out here today because I know that people might not understand, but that type of support is big-time, and it can help you settle down all the nerves that you have if you look to the side and see your brothers are there. That was a no-brainer for me for sure.”
The Steelers were onto Harris as a potential fit for their first-round pick well before his pro day, but showing his love for his teammates caught there eye and helped secure his status as a player they trusted to draft.