When the three-star linebacker and Arkansas commit got playing time as a freshman, he made it count.
“His freshman year, I took a senior out of the game and put him in,” said Lambert, Harris’ coach at John Ehret (La.) High. “He made a couple of stops and I told the coaches, ‘Trust me on this. He needs to get some reps. He’s going to be special.’”
That decision has paid dividends for Lambert and the Patriots, who enter this season as the No. 16 team in the state, according to The Times-Picayune, with Harris playing in a jack-of-all-trades role.
As a senior, Harris will not come off the field very much, Lambert said.
“De’jon is probably one of my best defensive players on the team,” Lambert said. “Pound-for-pound, probably one of our best players on the team.
“He plays quarterback, running back, receiver, linebacker, kicker, punter and returner. Nobody else does that. That should explain how valuable he is to the team.”
Harris’ athleticism has been on display all summer, as he has led John Ehret on both sides of the ball during 7-on-7 tournaments.
That’s no small feat considering the talent around him. Safety Jarrius Wallace is committed to Central Florida, while fellow linebacker Michael Divinity is a four-star prospect with 32 offers, including nine from SEC schools. The Patriots’ quarterback, Caron Baham, is committed to Missouri.
“He’s been our best receiver catching the ball this summer,” Lambert said. “He’s been one of the better linebackers out there along with Michael, doing a superb job out there in coverage and things like that.”
Beyond his raw talent, Lambert is impressed with how Harris can lead by example.
“I love his leadership and the way he can get his team to raise to his level of play,” Lambert said.
While Lambert describes Harris as a hard worker, he acknowledges the fact that he can still improve his game. One area he sees that could be improved is his speed, which is around 4.65-4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
When Harris committed to Arkansas in May, Lambert knew it was because the relationship he developed with his recruiters, wide receivers coach Michael Smith and linebackers coach Vernon Hargreaves.
“They really have a passion for the kids and for Arkansas,” Lambert said. “They’re really passionate about what they do. Those guys really care and I think that’s what De’jon likes.”
Before Harris plays for the Razorbacks, though, he has one more year at John Ehret.
The Patriots open the season Sept. 4 against Riverside, but play East St. John, the team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs, the following week.
“It’s going to be revenge and the Patriots will come out on top,” Lambert said.