Najee Harris doesn't like to talk about himself, but he's generated a lot of chatter from others.
There has been an amazing amount of buzz around the Antioch High running back, the machine behind the Panthers' undefeated regular season and the school's first football league title since the 1970s.
Opposing coaches who've faced their share of talent in lengthy careers noticed this year's East Bay Football Player of the Year.
"I've been a head coach for over 30 years and he's the best player I've ever seen," said Rancho Cotate coach Ed Conroy, who saw Harris go for 225 yards in Antioch's Sept. 18 win. "He has speed to run around you, he's big enough to run you over and he's patient with his blockers."
Amador Valley coach Rick Sira, whose Dons team lost to the Panthers in the North Coast Section Division 1 quarterfinals, was impressed with how hard Harris runs.
"With someone that has that much athletic ability, that's not the norm, where that kid is going to battle and give everything he has every time he carries the football," Sira said.
Praise from Foothill coach Matt Sweeney, whose Falcons edged Antioch 55-54 in the NCS semifinal round, was short and to the point.
"Najee's unbelievable," Sweeney said. "They won that (league) championship because of him."
Harris scored 300 points this season, third most in the state. He rushed for 2,696 yards and 36 touchdowns despite leaving seven games early because he'd already done plenty of damage. He stood healthily on the sideline for 15 total quarters.
Harris has a penchant for spectacular plays, particularly in big moments.
When Antioch was down by 14 points to rival Pittsburg at halftime of the Big Little Game, Harris toted the rock repeatedly after the break, totaling 277 yards and scoring three dazzling touchdowns. His scores and subsequent two-point conversions, of which he completed 33 this season, helped Antioch prevail 44-42 to capture the Bay Valley Athletic League title. As the clock wound down, the Panthers piled atop Harris at midfield.
In the third quarter of an NCS semifinal, Antioch trailed Foothill by 25 before Harris scored four touchdowns among his 364 yards to edge the Panthers within striking distance. One of those scores was an 80-yard romp through a Foothill defense that allowed the third-fewest points in NCS Division 1 this year.
And while the Falcons stopped him just short on a final two-point conversion attempt to triumph, there was no doubt Harris' performance provided the power for the comeback.
Still, Harris deferred credit to his teammates.
"They didn't quit, so I was telling myself, you've got to keep going -- even though I was tired as hell and beat up," Harris said. "I'm tired, but the team needs me."
Harris has a 6-foot-2-inch, 222-pound frame that is built to blow past defenders, but there's another secret to his success.
"It's reading their body language," Harris said. "It's instinct. If you shift this way, all their momentum's going this way, and your momentum still is stable, because you're the one making the moves. That's why I like to work on my lateral movement."
Harris likes to work out, period. His weight-room dedication impresses Antioch offensive coordinator Brett Dudley.
"He gets beat up a lot because he gets the ball so much and everyone tries to tee off on him," Dudley said. "But because he's in such good shape and lifts so much, he's able to handle it."
It's not in Harris' nature to crave the spotlight, but there will be more of it coming if he continues on his current trajectory.
Asked which tailback he wants to emulate, he said, "You have role models, but you don't want to be just like them. You want to be better."