On Wednesday, Texas earned a commitment from Denton Ryan’s Billy Bowman. An electric athlete, he could play offense or find his way to defense. Today, there’s no doubt about it, UT landed it’s first true defensive player from 2021 in New Caney’s Derrick Harris Jr.
Harris first came to my attention by way of New Caney football and baseball coach Austin Hall. Hall, the cousin of former Longhorns center Chris Hall, said Harris would not only be a big time talent but also came from a great family.
Indeed, the film showed tons of promise, and after meeting Harris’ parents it was clear they had him on the right course irrespective of sports. His mother is a professor and his father is a police officer on the same campus, so Harris being a quality person came as no surprise.
At one point I asked Mr. Harris if there were any imminent plans to visit Texas. He mentioned having to work visits around Derrick’s swimming schedule. He’s not the most common two-sport athlete (I’ve seen footage, he’s a good swimmer) but with long limbs and size 15-16 feet depending on the shoe, it’s clear he has similar physical advantages in the pool as on the field.
Similar to Malik Jefferson and Jeffrey McCulloch before him, Harris Jr. plays the edge in high school but also profiles to playing Mac or Rover. His ability as a pass rusher (he could also be a B-backer) is obvious and would be further heightened by the assortment of blitzes Todd Orlando utilizes. His combination of length and initial quickness isn’t in large supply and there’s a chance he could see a nice bounce in the ratings with a quality junior year.
Currently a composite .9237, he’s already thought of highly and holds offers from Miami, A&M, Virginia Tech, and others. Not to say this was a formality, but one school had the advantage from the outset.
On Texas: “I always knew I wanted to stay home. One of my earliest memories is of Texas winning the National Championship with Vince Young. Once Texas offered I knew I wanted to go there but I still gave other schools a chance and did my homework.
How did UT win him over? “Just how Coach Orlando kept coming to the school I knew they really wanted me. He would write and I knew the offer was coming. Even though I didn’t have an offer I knew they wanted me and they were recruiting me hard.”
What made him speed up the process? “I saw the ’21 class was taking off. I wanted to be one of the first defensive players. Coach Orlando and Coach Herman really wanted me. When I went to Texas last week I knew I wanted to commit. Then Billy (Bowman) committed I just knew it was time.”
His position at Texas: “They’ll play me anywhere, it depends on how I grow. Outside, any linebacker spot really. ” It’ll be interesting to see how his 6-foot-2.5, 220 pound frame fills out. There are a lot of possibilities and all of them are good.
“Just seeing how Hayden (Conner) and Jalen (Milroe) have the offense, me and Billy will have the defense like that. Jalen’s an offensive leader, I’m a defensive leader and will recruit more defensive players.”