Coach: Harris Is Pure Pass Rusher
When Jeremy Hathcock says Jalen Harris is dedicated, the Desert Ridge High School head coach means it.
“The kid has a relentless work ethic,” the coach said of the 2017 defensive end from Arizona. “Literally, the last day of school last year, I walked into the gym and he’s on the VertiMax going. When everybody is out partying and doing their thing, he’s on the VertiMax.
“He’s a very driven individual. You’re going to get a kid who understands this could be a career thing for him. There’s a very realistic possibility that it will be if he stays healthy. And he knows that.”
Just who gets the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is what Arizona and Notre Dame fans are eager to learn.
Harris has been committed to Arizona, where his father starred before going on to an NFL career, since June. But after taking an official visit to South Bend this weekend, he has plenty to think about.
“In this part of the country, he’s a very sought-after kid,” Hathcock said. “You don’t get 6-4, 215-pound kids who can run like he does. The thing with him is his pedigree is great. I mean, look at his parents, obviously, Dad (Sean) is a former NFL player and Mom is a former Division-I basketball player.”
Harris’ younger brother, Jason, promises to be one of the nation’s top targets in both football and basketball in the Class of 2020.
“You know they’ve had to fight over everything their whole life,” Hathcock laughed.
Sean Harris has been a member of Hathcock’s staff for more than a decade.
“He not only knows how to play, but knows how to coach,” Hathcock said. “He demands from his kids. His kids, they don’t party, they don’t go drinking. They’re very clean kids, which is rare.
“He’s everything you want out of an athlete and is chippy and edgy and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s got it all. Even though they’re the best family ever, they’re violent when they play football, so that helps. Let me tell you, they’re violent.”
Hathcock said Harris’ explosion is one of his greatest strengths.
“His first step is absolutely crazy off the ball,” the coach said. “He’s been coached very well, he’s had some great d-line coaches while he’s been here and been exposed to. You don’t see a first step like his anywhere. He’s one of the best all-time sack artists, so to speak, in our state, so we’re lucky to have him.”
And even with the work ethic he’s displayed so far, Harris will have the time to dedicate himself even more to football in college.
“Since he’s a multiple-sport athlete, he really hasn’t even been in the weight room a ton,” Hathcock said. “Right when he dials in on the weight room, he’ll gain 20 pounds in a second. He hasn’t even seen his best physically yet. It could be crazy for how athletic he is.”
Hathcock thinks Harris’ best fit would be as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, but believes he’d be successful at defensive end in a 4-3 as well.
“That’s what we play here,” the coach said. “We’re a straight 4-3. Once he puts on 30 pounds, he could be a legit 4-3 d-end. He’s just got to put on some weight. I could see definitely a redshirt year out of him and then nothing but good things after that.
“Anytime you can get a kid going upfield rushing like that, especially the way today’s game is, he causes problems. In talking with a lot of college coaches, there are not a lot of guys like him out there who are long and fast and athletic. Obviously, knowing body leverage like he does and understanding the fundamentals. When he moves, he doesn’t think. It’s just natural with who he is. A lot of kids try to be pass rushers. Well, he is a pass rusher.”
Harris is expected to finalize his decision and let each
school know either today or tomorrow and then to publicly announce his choice Wednesday.