Yesterday the Longhorns picked up another big time commitment for their 2021 recruiting class in the form of four star New Caney (TX) linebacker Derrick Harris Jr.
— Derrick Harris Jr (@yaahboidj) August 3, 2019
Harris is the 7th commitment for Texas’ 2021 class and their fifth commitment from a four star prospect. The Longhorns have the 2nd ranked 2021 recruiting class nationally according to 247Sports and only trail Miami, who had 13 commitments already.
Derrick Harris Jr. is a four star outside linebacker prospect out of New Caney (TX) high school. In 2019, Harris will be entering his second season as a starter at outside linebacker after previously being listed as a wide receiver/ tight end. At 6’2.5, 215 pounds Harris possesses a long, athletic frame that will allow him to continue to fill out and add good weight as he continues to mature. 2018 was Harris’ first full season at linebacker and he immediately flashed as an athletic edge disruptor. While Harris only tallied 4.5 sacks, he also put up 21.5 TFLs, along with 6 PBUs, 1 FF, 1 FR, and 2 INTs (1 TD). That’s an incredible amount of ball production for a guy who is still getting his feet wet at the position and is barely scratching the surface of what his true ceiling is. Harris possesses a good first step and is very sudden off the ball to the point that he is a complete mismatch for the competition he is facing on tape. Harris consistently has tackles bailing out of their stances and can run the arc without much resistance from opposing offensive lineman. Trying to block him with one is pretty much a non-starter at this point and will likely result in your quarterback getting dumped on his back. As a pass rusher, Harris is simply a mismatch for anyone he faces on athleticism only and therefore he hasn’t had to develop many moves to defeat blockers just yet. Developing counters and improving his hand usage will be something to keep an eye on as he continues to develop whether he is playing on or off the ball. Harris’ combination of length and athleticism makes his potential as a blitzer and a pass rusher very intriguing moving forward if he can refine his technique and continue to develop. As a run defender, it was more of the same when in regards to Harris just being disruptive and being a huge mismatch for opposing offenses. I lost track of how many times Harris would simply come off the edge unblocked or would just blow past blockers almost unchecked and would make the play. While I don’t fault the kid for making the plays and being superior than his competition, it does make it a bit tougher to gauge how well he takes on blocks since he doesn’t seem to be getting challenged much. Whether you project him to play on or off the ball at the next level, you will need to get a better read on how well he is able to attack and shed blocks along with being able to navigate through traffic on his way to the ball carrier. One thing that can’t be questioned and Harris’ motor and his effort in pursuit of the ball career. Harris shows consistently on tape that he will exude maximum effort in pursuit of the ball carrier. Harris only shows a few clips on tape of having to drop into coverage, and while it doesn’t show much, he does show some traits that are encouraging given that he hasn’t played the position long. Harris is a pretty fluid athlete, who moves well in space and most importantly he doesn’t look uncomfortable when asked to go backwards or walk out and defend the slot. Overall, Harris is a very exciting and intriguing player with a very high ceiling, and I am very curious to see what direction his development heads in as he continues to move towards the collegiate level.
This is another fantastic get for Tom Herman and his staff as the momentum for the 2021 recruiting class continues to swell in Austin, TX. The state of Texas has not produced a great number of elite linebackers over the past several years, and when you combine that with the need of quality linebackers on the depth chart it makes landing Harris that much more important for the Longhorns. This was also a recruiting victory over in-state rival Texas A&M, who no doubt coveted Harris and was recruiting him hard leading up to his announcement.
With the staff’s pursuit of Texas High linebacker Clayton Smith, there is a chance that Harris ends up at Mac or Rover down the line with Smith likely pegged as a B-backer if they can eventually land him. Landing Smith to going along with Harris would provide the Longhorns with two very athletic and high ceiling prospects at the linebacker position that will no doubt have Todd Orlando licking his chops.
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