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UAPB’s Harris ready to rumble
True freshman Jerryan Harris plans to introduce himself to Southern’s offense Saturday night at A.W. Mumford Stadium.
So far, the Arkansas-Pine Bluff outside linebacker has made similar introductions during his first season of college football. Harris leads the Southwestern Athletic Conference in tackles with 31 through three games, a product of his solid tackling and ability to get to the action. He also has one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
Not bad for a newbie.
“I think two years from now, a lot of Division I (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools are going to be scratching their heads, wondering how they missed this kid, because he’s going to be that good,” his head coach, Monte Coleman, said. UAPB is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Harris’ play on the strong side of the 4-3 defense has helped the unit recover from offseason losses of all three starting linebackers and rebound from two losses to start this fall. He compiled a team-high nine tackles during Saturday’s 35-19 win against Division II member Clark Atlanta. This defense allowed just 37 rushing yards and held quarterback Ronald Thompson to 161 passing yards and one touchdown. Thompson also had an interception and was sacked twice.
“Overall, the defense is playing OK,” Coleman said. His defense is allowing 29.3 points per game. “We definitely have to put a major emphasis on eliminating big plays.”
Harris, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound native of Arlington, Tenn., also tallied 11 tackles apiece in games against FBS member Texas-El Paso and Alabama State of the SWAC — both team highs.
Coleman, who went from NAIA school Central Arkansas to star and win Super Bowls at linebacker with the Washington Redskins, called him the prototype linebacker that everyone is looking for.
“He has the football instinct, is always around the football, has a great work ethic and has the frame,” Coleman said. “All he needs to do now is stay motivated and get bigger, stronger, faster during the offseason weight program.
“The thing that you don’t coach, which Jerryan has, is a great football heart. He’s got football smarts. He runs to the football constantly, and that is why he’s the leading tackler in the SWAC.”
His next challenge comes against Southern (1-2, 0-1 SWAC), losers of its last two games. Even more important, the Jaguars, in the midst of a version of hot potato at quarterback, are struggling offensively. Southern managed just 57 rushing yards during last week’s 34-14 loss at Alabama A&M.
Rushing the football could decide Saturday’s outcome. And Harris is expected to be in the middle of the pile. Overall, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1-2, 0-1) ranks fourth in the conference in rushing defense (117.7 yards per game).
By Gary Estwick, The Advocate