“This is crazy, yo. We’re gonna hit 100K views, we’re about to blow!”
Dajon Harrison sits on his bed minutes after breaking the news of his commitment to the Texas Longhorns alongside his childhood friend and teammate Brock Bujnoch. The two are sifting through Harrison’s sudden bombardment of Twitter mentions. A lamp on the ground in the corner of the room serves as the only light in the room as Harrison experiences one of the biggest moments of his life.
“They have an evaluation for you in 247 now, they’re comparing you to JD Spielman,” I bring up as he FaceTimes his cousin, former Longhorn national champion Jamaal Charles.
“Is he cold?”
“Yeah, no doubt,” Bujnoch replies.
His MyPlayer on NBA 2K20, which has been impressively constructed with the flyest clothes and tattoos that the game has to offer, looks over the room before the TV goes into a power saving mode. Sorry 2K, something much more important came up tonight.
Texas had long been the dream school for Harrison, but as the 2020 class began to take shape over the summer, he saw his chances dwindle to slim as the season started.
In July, he released a top six of Houston, Kansas State, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado State, and Iowa State. The dream of going to the Big 12 was still alive, even after his short stint as a TCU commit over the spring.
However, a message from Bryan Carrington in September that started conversation between the two changed it all, and the rest is history.
“If they offer me, it’s a wrap,” Harrison said in October.
That offer came on November 4, and with it came an instant commitment to the Forty Acres. Dajon Harrison had become the newest Texas Longhorn.
I was watching Monday Night Football, expecting the Cowboys to lose in a horrendous way once again, when my phone pinged from the other room. I knew before I even looked at my phone. First the tweet from Carrington, now three consecutive texts at 8:30, I knew exactly who it was.
“GET READY FAM, LOWKEY PULL UP TOMORROW.”
“WAS THAT YOU?” I replied, referring to Carrington’s tweet.
I showed up to Hutto Memorial Stadium around 3:30 ready to film one of the quickest put-together videos of my life. Sure, I can do my thing with a camera, but this? This will be seen by thousands of people with expectations of greatness. I just cover recruiting, man.
Dajon comes around the corner of the field house with his mother, Autumn, as a teammate walks into them.
“Hey congratulations, man.”
Word is already spreading around the school. We don’t have much time, I think to myself.
At about that time, Mrs. Autumn makes a phone call to the glue of Dajon’s commitment video, Jamaal Charles.
“Oh I see you, just park up front.”
A shiny black Tesla pulls around the corner of the stadium into the school parking lot. A few seconds pass and out comes Charles with his #25 Longhorn helmet and a hoodie for Dajon.
“Next man up,” Charles says.
“What’s up cous, you already know!”
Jamaal Charles is fresh off of his retirement from the NFL in May after 11 seasons. These days, Charles says he’s “just chilling” at his home in Lake Travis.
“I’m happy for him, this is his dream. It’s time for him to go live his dream like I did,” Charles said.
Charles and Dajon get into place on the home side bleachers as they construct how they want the video to go. Dajon was confident but realistic in what he wanted in the video.
“It’s gotta go hard, bro. I want this to go crazy.”
“Dajon is the most optimistic kid I know,” his mom told me earlier in the day. “If he says it’s gonna happen, it’s gonna happen. Since he was a little boy, if he puts his mind to it, it’s going to happen. Period.”
Filming wrapped up around 5:30 as the Hutto Middle School football teams took the field at Hutto Memorial Stadium to take on their crosstown rivals, the Farley Hippos.
“Oh, I remember that game. That game was always fun,” Mrs. Autumn says.
Everyone begins to go their separate ways as Charles, Mrs. Autumn, Dajon, and Brock Bujnoch stay behind. I could tell that Mrs. Autumn was just as popular in this moment as her son was.
“Mrs. Autumn, I’m probably gonna come over tonight, are you gonna be cooking something?” Brock asks as he picks up his crutches. Before the season, Bujnoch suffered a torn meniscus that ended his high school football career prematurely. Ironically, he was able to bond immediately with Jamaal over knee injuries.
“I might pick you up something,” Mrs. Autumn replies.
For Mrs. Autumn and her husband Darryl, Dajon staying close to home is one of the biggest positives of him going to Austin, just 30 minutes down the road from Hutto.
“I am excited about him staying home and I asked him if I could come eat lunch with him at least once a week, and then maybe come and watch him practice like three times a week, but he said no to that,” she said laughingly.
It was in no one’s plans for Dajon to commit just two months before the Early Signing Period, but there wasn’t any sense of nervousness around the Harrison household, even after his decommitment from TCU.
“I was disappointed,” she said about the decommitment. “But then at the same time I realized that this is his decision, not mine. TCU is a great school, small, close to home. But this, this hit the jackpot going to Texas.”
Patience seemed to be the biggest factor for the three-star and his family as even the call with the offer didn’t come until late Monday night from the coaching staff.
“They asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ I said ‘Folding his clothes,’ and then they said ‘Well Mom, how would like to come fold them at UT?’ They offered him and Dajon had the biggest smile, that’s the biggest I’ve ever seen that kid smile. For him, his patience and his perseverance, everything played out just like he wanted it to.”
Meanwhile, Jamaal Charles was talking it up with one of Dajon’s teammates who is trying to decide on pursuing a computer science degree at Baylor or Texas.
“Networking, that’s the thing about UT man,” Charles said. “You walk in the door and say you went to UT, and you will find somebody in the room that will help you out.”
It’s not often that a commit can get such a personalized story of what it’s like to be a Longhorn that Dajon has been able to get from Charles. In his three seasons, he racked up the fourth-most rushing yards in school history and helped lead his team to a national championship in his freshman season.
“He just has to go in and work hard, like his back is against the wall,” Charles said. “There’s talent coming from around the world, not just the state of Texas, so he has to play at his highest peak.”
It’s been almost 14 years since Charles raised the National Championship Trophy at the Rose Bowl after one of the best college football games in history, but he is confident that his little cousin can bring that same pedigree to Austin that Charles’ teammates brought to that 2005 team.
“He can bring a tradition. I can see his passion about football and how bad he wants it. His play speaks for itself, you can see his ability to be something special. He just has to continue to keep the right head and work hard. He reminds me of me of how we’ve both had to prove so many people wrong so many times.”
Proving people wrong is something that Dajon will definitely be keeping close to him. Ranked at 936th in the nation by the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Dajon is by far the lowest-rated recruit in Texas’ 2020 class.
“He has to go up in there like he’s the best. When all of them get there, all of the rankings and stars go out the door. Everybody is gonna have to prove why they’re the best player in the class. He still has to show out and prove why Texas recruited him, and while he may not be the best ranked in the class, he’s gotta show them that he’s an underdog. He’s better than people think he is though, that’s for sure.”
Later in the night at the Harrison household, Dajon bounces between NBA 2K20 and Call of Duty on his Play Station 4 in angst before finally settling on FaceTiming friends. It takes me roughly three hours to edit a video like the one we filmed on Tuesday, so I knew that this would be a waiting game for Dajon.
At around 7:00, Brock comes through to hang with Dajon as his mom follows close behind with Chick-Fil-A for all of us.
“You’re dropping the video tonight?” his mom asks surprisingly.
“Yes mom, they waiting on me.”
More pressure added to my two hands and computer.
I bring up the fact that there will probably be some haters because of how lowly-ranked he is and ask of his opinion on that to change the subject.
“I’m not worried about all that. They’ll see.”
“They just gotta watch his film man, he’s a baller,” Brock said.
Around that time, Dajon FaceTimes Bryan Carrington to let him know that the video is coming in the next twenty minutes.
“Bet,” Carrington replies as Dajon quickly hangs up. It’s go time.
Minutes after the post (which didn’t work on anyone’s phone in the room and took five minutes to send through my computer), retweets, likes, evaluations, articles, and congratulations started flying in. Brock sifted through his timeline next to Dajon to help him gauge all of the love.
Thirty minutes after the post, Dajon’s follower count had ticked up by 300 as more interactions started pouring in. I caught that smile that his mom mentioned earlier in the day, I could definitely tell that this was the moment he had been waiting for.
My job here was done. I had scored a free meal and made an acceptable production in my eyes in about four hours.
“Man, this whole experience was great,” Dajon said as I was heading out. “I loved it. All of this love for me, I feel like it’s not true. It’s still a dream to me, so I’m just trying to enjoy all of it right now and stay humble, be great, and keep going.”
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