Caught on Tape: The Elusive John Harris

If Darius Terrell does actually end up at tight end, as expected, perhaps the biggest reach on the offensive side of the ball is Naaman Forest receiver John Harris. A player with great size for the position, at 6-3, Harris doesn't pass the important, but overrated, speed test -- he runs a 4.67 40, certainly not a burner. In a deep class of wide receiver, Harris is hardly the most highly-rated, as well. In the aggregate rankings, in fact, there are four other receivers (Terrell is listed as a receiver) ranked in front of him. Two strikes against Harris. The third strike was figuratively called when it became apparent that there was a strange lack of film on any of the recruiting services of him, making any type of evaluation impossible beyond the miniscule nuggets of information out there. Apparently, catching Harris on film was about as difficult as snagging a moving picture shot of the Abominable Snowman.

All of this is not to say that Harris should be classified as a reach, before or after his film surfaced, but rather to simply say that the combination of his hardly eye-popping speed, relatively low ranking (as high as 23 in the state, as low as 38), and complete lack of film created the type of separation between available knowledge and truth that has to be filled with speculation -- the type of space in which conspiracy theories, for example, tend to flourish.

But now, dear friends, further analysis is finally possible. Finally, tape of Harris ($) has surfaced. Just like his 40 time, his film isn't eye-popping, but there is nothing to suggest that he was a reach. The most remarkable aspect of his film is just how far off the line of scrimmage opposing defensive backs play him, suggesting that Harris is a serious deep threat. With defenses essentially conceding the short pass, Harris catches a ton of short passes.

While that isn't impressive in and of itself, as the defense is not even attempting to stop those plays, what is impressive is the way the Harris makes defenders miss in the open field. On nearly every play in the highlight reel, Harris makes the first defender miss -- he has above-average feet for a big receiver. Once in the open field, Harris shows solid acceleration, not looking as fast as, say, Malcolm Williams, but certainly displaying adequate speed.

Given his size advantage, Harris should break some tackles, as well. He does, showing the capability to drag several defenders into the end zone, though he could finish some plays with more authority and a lowered shoulder to punish small defensive backs.

The hardest aspect of his game to critique is his route-running ability, as Harris simply doesn't have to show much in the film to get open. The good news is that the word on Harris is that he is a polished route runner, while also possessing the ability to find holes in a zone defense or catch the ball in traffic, important qualities for a team that will probably continue with the controlled passing game with Garrett Gilbert as the quarterback.

One highlight film does not a player make, but any concerns about Harris being a reach, in combination with the information already out there, can now be assuaged.

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