After taking two prospects from junior colleges in the 2012 class, head coach Mack Brown said that Longhorns would only recruit from those ranks on an as-needed basis.
With quality depth still lacking at offensive tackle, it appears Texas has another need on the outside of the offensive line, one the coaches are trying to fill with a commitment from Contra Costa Community College offensive tackle Desmond Harrison ($), a 6-8, 300-pounder who holds some decent national offers.
A one-time attendee of Fort Bend Marshall in the greater Houston area, Harrison then moved to North Carolina, where he played at Oakridge Military Academy before making his way out to California.
As a native Texan, the offer from the Longhorns made quite an impression on Harrison, according to his head coach Alonzo Carter:
He’s very excited. Desmond told me it’s a dream come true for him actually. He’s originally from Texas, has family in Texas and has always kept tabs on Texas, so it’s a really big deal for him. He’s been ecstatic about it actually.
Sounds like the type of comments that high school prospects often make before committing.
Beyond the ties that Harrison has to Texas, the Contra Costa staff also has ties to their colleagues in Austin:
My defensive coordinator and Coach (Bo) Davis were frat brothers. My offensive line coach played for Coach (Bryan) Harsin at Boise State. So those two guys let them know about Desmond originally. Coach (Bruce) Chambers then stopped by when he was out this way and saw him. He really liked what he saw so he told Coach Davis and Davis stayed in contact. Then Coach (Stacey) Searels got to see him and liked what he saw. Soon after, they offered him over the phone.
Connections. Bo Davis has them, and Stacy Searels clearly is not content taking high school prospects from the state of Texas.
Harrison plans on taking an official visit to Texas for banquet weekend. Last weekend, he visited Raleigh to see North Carolina State take down Florida State, and plans on visiting Arizona State and Iowa State in the future, in addition to a final official visit to an as-yet undetermined destination.
On the surface, it doesn't make a lot of sense to bring in a junior college offensive tackle. At least, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense for the player. After all, Hawkins has another year of eligibility left and right tackle Josh Cochran is a sophomore.
The good news with Harrison is that he will have three years to complete his remaining two seasons of eligibility, meaning that he could redshirt if he ends up coming to Texas and doesn't want to waste a year of eligibility playing in a back-up role. At that point, he could compete for the starting tackle job vacated by the departing Hawkins.
The quick success of Hawkins and the way that the staff followed through with promised playing time for the big offensive tackle are factors that likely play well for the Longhorns, as do the connections of Harrison to Texas and the Contra Costa staff.
On film, Harrison appears to need some work on his kick step and doesn't seem to be challenged often on the edge in an offense that uses multiple extra linemen on some plays, with Harrison even motioning from one side of the line to the other, though he mostly plays right tackle. As a run blocker, his 6-8 height means to comes off the ball rather high at times and with his back bent -- he has some issues with his leverage, but can physically overpower most of his opponents.
Offensive linemen are notoriously hard to evaluate and Stacy Searels has the benefit of the doubt at the moment, but based on the film, it appears that Harrison would benefit from a redshirt year at Texas, though the concerns are technical issues at this point, as Harrison appears to have the feet to play left tackle if he becomes a Longhorn, moving remarkably well in space for someone of his size.
It remains to be seen what happens with the outstanding offers to the two prep prospects, but given the need for another pure tackle in the class, Harrison could end up being a better tackle with a higher floor than either of Caleb Benenoch and Andrew Billings. Just for a shorter period of time.
Not only that, but besides the fact that Harrison's mother now lives in North Carolina, the schools in the hunt for his services are teams that the Longhorns should win most recruiting battles against.