Ohio State was dealt a heavy blow when four-star wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey of Las Vegas Bishop Gorman decommitted from the Buckeyes on Jan. 11. Luckily, for the Scarlet and Gray, Urban Meyer and his program garnered another highly-touted wide out two days later in four-star prospect Jaylen Harris from University Heights (Ohio) Cleveland Heights.
Harris selected the Buckeyes over the likes of Alabama, Michigan State, Penn State and Tennessee. The 6-5, 205-pounder is rated the No. 20 receiver and No. 137 overall player in the 2017 class.
Harris didn’t just play football in high school, though. He’s played basketball throughout his time at Cleveland Heights as well, and in some ways, that has benefited him on the gridiron.
“The thing with Jaylen’s athletic ability is that I always say that he can jump,” head coach Mac Stephens said Tuesday. “He can catch a football at 11 feet in the air, which I think part of that was developed through all of his years of playing basketball – his jumping ability. When you watch him run routes, just the agility that he possesses for a young man at 6-5 is pretty impressive. I think all of those things that he picked up from playing basketball he carried it over into football.”
The coach added that Harris excels in taking a 5- or 10-yard pass and turning it into a 60- or 70-yard touchdown. While the athleticism and physique are certainly there, Stephens said Harris can improve one aspect of his game.
“He definitely can get better with route-running,” the former NFL linebacker noted. “I think whether you’re a high school, college or even professional wide receiver you have to constantly work on that part of your game.”
Considering the dedication Harris puts into his craft, advancing his route-running abilities is a process he assuredly won’t ignore.
“He practiced at game speed,” Stephens said. “Typically, at the high school level you have to teach guys how to have that kind of motor but for him it was just natural. He takes a lot of pride in trying to be the best player out there.”
In the 14 years Stephens has been a high school football coach, he saw Harris showcase something Stephens hasn’t necessarily seen before at the prep level.
“I’ve coached quite a few Division I football players over the years, one thing about Jaylen is his work ethic is one of the best I’ve seen from a high school kid,” Stephens said. “He’s an intelligent young man and from an athletic standpoint, he possesses everything you want in a receiver."