In covering recruiting, the high school safety prospects that look like full grown men are few and far between. Add in the further qualification of being a sophomore in high school and the list narrows even further. Like to a handful of names nationally over the course of several recruiting cycles. But just such a player is 2013 Groveland, FL safety Marcell Harris.
A kid whose long dreads and choice of a no. 27 jersey evoke comparison to former Texas great Michael Griffin -- seriously, the dude looks uncannily similar. Not even to the prep version of Michael Griffin. Not even to the collegiate version of Michael Griffin. No, with his solid frame and a physical maturity well beyond his years, Harris looks like the current version of Michael Griffin at 6-2 and 195 pounds. Entering his junior season of high school.
In fact, Harris is so impressive physically and looks so advanced for his age group, this author went as far as to say Sunday night that Harris could play the same position currently manned by Blake Gideon better than the prospective four-year starter. Slightly hyperbolic? Perhaps. A position influenced by the euphoria of watching highlights of Harris for the first time after a heady Super Regional victory over Arizona State taken in at the Disch? Perhaps.
Check my reasoning after watching the film, though. With his explosive and decisive first step,
Griffin Harris has the range to be a menace from his deep safety position, using his speed to close on the football and finish plays with interceptions (six as a sophomore). Just as impressive is his ability running the alley in run support, showing that he can take correct angles to the football and the lateral quickness to finish plays one-on-one against running backs in the hole, something that both Gideon and Christian Scott did exceedingly poorly last season.
Though it's not clear how much experience Harris has in coverage -- resulting in any discussion about his ability to walk up in coverage being purely speculative in nature --- that lateral quickness and pure explosiveness suggests that with the physical talent present, some coaching on technique could produce a scheme versatile safety with NFL upside, exactly the type of talent Akina has often melded into NFL careers. And once again, remember that Harris is entering his junior season.
Yeah, he's that good. But despite the praise, which is substantial, he does have some room for improvement. Sophomore, remember? To his detriment, Harris likes to lead with his shoulder at times instead of wrapping up -- call it Roy Williams Syndrome. When he does approach a form tackle, he still often fails to bring his feet and show the type of explosion through his tackles that will eventually allow him to become an intimidating presence that dominates the middle of the field physically. Instill a healthy fear in wide receivers running slants/posts and ballcarriers alike, and all that. If the light comes on like it did for Reggie Wilson in high school, Florida high school football is in some trouble.
As far as his recruitment, Harris visited Austin Sunday for the Texas camp and came away impressed with his visit. Duane Akina expressed his interest in Harris during a trip to Florida in which the Longhorn defensive backs coach viewed Nelson Agholor, and the future national recruit quickly reciprocated with the camp visit and what appears to be a healthy respect for both the school and Akina's proven ability to put defensive backs in the league.
Harris' position coach at South Lake seems to have a healthy respect for the Longhorns as well, showing the Texas staff a lot of love on Twitter during his own visit and having a picture taken in the defensive backs room with a massive smile on his face.
As a Florida legacy, it looks difficult to pull Harris away from the grasps of Will Muschamp and Gators, but the positive impression from his camp visit and the fact that he's already been on campus at the beginning of his recruitment should create some recruiting momentum for the Longhorns to provide Harris a chance to build a relationship with the coaching staff, and, hopefully, if he can continue to visit Austin once or twice next spring, the chance to be around some future Longhorns in the 2013 class that will be taking shape during that time.
Step by step, the Longhorns could become a major factor in Harris' recruitment.