St. James Coach Says Harris Still Improving

St. James coach Jimmy Perry discusses Auburn commitment, tight end Jalen Harris, who announced his decision to play for the Tigers on Tuesday evening.

Montgomery, Ala.--Former Auburn staff member Jimmy Perry knows what a college football player looks like.

Being part of former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville's staff as the director of NFL Relations, he dealt with pro teams day in and day out in regards to players getting to the next level.

As the coach of Jalen Harris, he sees that same type of ability and drive to be successful in Auburn's newest commitment after a strong winter and spring turned him from solid prospect into SEC-level player.

"They are getting a kid who really loves to play the game," Perry said. "One of the questions the NFL scouts used to ask me was ‘is football important to an Auburn player?' If they're going to play them a lot of money it better be important to them. I kind of equate that to Jalen's situation.

"Football is very, very important to him," Perry said. "It's going to be his ticket for an education and it's probably going to be his ticket to whatever degree and career he chooses, and he realizes that. A lot of young people don't realize that soon enough.

"Jalen almost waited too late, but he's really blossomed," Perry noted. "A lot of guys blossom between ninth and 10th grade and 10th and 11th grade. He was one that kind of blossomed between his junior year and senior year.

"It was really after Christmas of his junior year that he really, really came on. His marks in the weight room really went up. His times really went down. He really made himself into a college football player and a recruitable athlete.

"A lot of times you get a false sense of security of what fast is until you see really fast," Perry added. "There is fast and there is really fast, and the really fast players play at the next level. He got to experience really fast and he was able through hard work and dedication to get to playing the game at a good, high level."

Harris announced his decision to play for Gus Malzahn's Tigers at St. James School on Tuesday evening. He chose the Tigers over Alabama, LSU, Miami, Vanderbilt and others.

"The good thing about it is he hasn't topped out yet," Perry said. "A lot of guys will top out in high school. You can't say that about him because he's really just started moving up.

"He's got what you can't coach--he's got height and good hands, but he's got that heart that the Auburn people like to see in a player. Being an Auburn alum, I went to school there, I want to see kids that want to play for Auburn. I want to see that winning is important and doing their best is important.

"He's a blue collar kid who comes to work every day," Perry added. "He tries to get better every day. That is what Auburn people want and I think they're going to like what they see."

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