Cornerback / Field Safety
Ideal Scholarship Roster Number: 10-11
Potential Returning Number (in 2018): 7 (Armand Perry, Kareem Orr, Chase Lucas, Alex Perry, Langston Frederick, Darien Cornay, Kobe Williams)
Likely Returning Number: 7
2018 Commitments: 1 (Dominique Harrison)
Remaining target number: 2-3
A major rebuilding of Arizona State's secondary will continue into the 2018 recruiting cycle even after the program's coaches added four cornerbacks in the 2017 cycle. The Sun Devils are returning just three scholarship cornerbacks this season and had to use walk-ons on the second-team in spring practices.
Even after adding those four defensive backs in the 2017 class, including the late additions of four-for-three junior college players Darien Cornay and Kobe Williams, the secondary remains a position of need in the 2018 period. Safety will probably be more of a need than cornerback, but the Sun Devils will likely still take at least two cornerbacks and possibly as many as three when all the dust settles from the remodel.
On Tuesday ASU received its first 2018 commitment and it came in the secondary, the same unit that was supplemented post-signing day with multiple late additions: safety DeMonte King in addition to Cornay and Williams.
Blinn College cornerback Dominique Harrison was initially a candidate to join others as a late 2017 signee at ASU. He officially visited the program in February but remaining academic needs pushed him back to the 2018 class, where he's expected to be a mid-year enrollee. West Virginia was also considering signing Harrison late in the 2017 cycle.
ASU made a great impression on Harrison during his official visit, and in a rare case, three months later he decided to commit to the program as a member of the following class. He said that the Sun Devils continued to stand above all other schools from his viewpoint in the time since he was in Tempe, and that his relationship with the schools' coaches, coupled with the opportunity for playing time, led to his readiness for the commitment.
Harrison, 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, is originally from the Houston area where he prepped at Atascocita High School. He had to go to junior college due to academics, and elected to stay nearby at Blinn in Brenham, Texas. After reportedly receiving a medical hardship waiver as a freshman in 2015, Harrison became a starter for Blinn in the fifth game of the 2016 season as a redshirt freshman and promptly had two interceptions. He went on to finish the second with a team-best four interceptions as well as 23 tackles and 10 pass breakups.
The expectation is Harrison will join the Sun Devils as a junior with two years of eligibility unless he gets injured in a way that forces him to miss all or most of a season, in which case he is a strong candidate for a sixth season of eligibility.
Harrison's recruitment likely would have continued to develop quite a bit in the next six or seven months had he decided to remain unattached, and it still may regardless of his commitment to ASU. Other schools are likely to still offer a scholarship to Harrison if he plays well in his third year at Blinn. Harrison told us that he's "100 percent" committed to ASU, and only time will reveal if that remains the case.
A versatile defensive back, Harrison projects to be able to play not only cornerback, but also nickel corner and even field safety at the major college level. He's more of a smooth mover than a twitchy athlete, but someone who looks competent in a variety of techniques. Harrison's ball skills and field awareness are his best attributes as a prospect. He is extremely poised and intuitive with his back to the play, reads receivers very well in such position, and has the ability to make plays on the football that a lot of other cornerbacks simply can't.
Harrison also has a great feel for space and play awareness. He has a knack for being able to peek the quarterback pre and immediately post-snap while still maintaining visual sight of his wide receiver assignment in man coverages. It's not the way things are taught, but something a lot of the most talented and instinctive cornerbacks possess. Occasionally he'll get beaten as a result of gambling without help, and it's a potential drawback that additional situational awareness will help Harrison improve upon. But he has the instincts that are a prerequisite.
In zone coverages, Harrison has some very impressive moments on film. He is able to keep his eyes on the backfield but feel the play and react very quickly to either shift within his zone among receivers, or get out of a break to collapse to the throw in the flat. He also feels blockers without taking his eyes off the ball and quickly identifies quick hitting screen plays and slant routes.
Harrison isn't especially athletic for the position -- he was a high 11s 100 meters runner in high school track as a senior, but does have the ability to get up and dunk a basketball quite easily at 5-foot-11 -- due to average speed and quickness, but his size for the position is pretty good and his instincts and playmaking are potentially very good. Those things enhance to some degree his average athleticism among Pac-12 level cornerbacks.
He has some technical flaws with his flat-footedness and initial footwork at the line of scrimmage, and is undeveloped with how he approaches using his hands in bump techniques, and some players are slow to correct these things and find it unnatural. He also will prematurely get his head around for the football when in phase, which can be a bad habit. But Harrison has the type of natural feel that you want and is a solid addition for the Sun Devils as a versatile cornerback who could also play nickel and even field side safety given his coverage versatility and fluid movement skills.