SMU head coach June Jones is known as a quarterback guru, but he hasn't had much luck developing signal-callers on The Hilltop.
From Kyle Padron to Stephen Kaiser, numerous quarterbacks have left the program and failed to reach their potential. And his offenses haven't been nearly as explosive as those he had in Hawaii.
But all of that could change very soon.
This offseason, Jones brought in passing game coordinator Hal Mumme to spark the offense and help Garrett Gilbert continue to improve. Mumme has been doing just that this fall camp and has also contributing on the recruiting trail, where he landed four-star Pierce County quarterback Tyler Harris, who committed following his unofficial visit last month.
"Me and my parents sat down and talked about it after the visit. We talked about my future and goals in life, and we decided SMU was a great fit for me," Harris said. "SMU is a great school academically. They have a top business program, and there are tons of networking opportunities in Dallas.
"Coach Mumme is an easy guy to get along with. He's really easy going and was great throughout the recruiting process. He actually coached my head coach and that played a big role in everything. We all just have a great relationship. He told me that I had all the physical tools to really succeed in their offense, which is very similar to what I run now."
At 6-foot-4, 220-pounds, Harris may not need very much time to develop. He already posses an extremely strong and accurate arm and is one of the most polished quarterbacks in the entire Class of 2014. Ranked as the No. 20 quarterback in the county, Harris chose SMU over offers from the likes of Alabama, Kentucky and South Carolina.
And while Neal Burcham already appears to be penciled in as Gilbert's successor, Harris has the talent to compete for the starting job as a true freshman. He plans to graduate this December and enroll early so he can learn the system and give Burcham and other upperclassmen a run for their money.
"Coach Jones and Coach Mumme said I have a chance to go in there and compete for a starting job right away," Harris said. "Me and my dad actually talked about how special it would be for me to be the one to lead SMU back to the top, where they were in the 80s. I know about the Death Penalty and all of that, and I think it's a great situation for me to come into especially now that they're starting to get back there."
If anyone can help SMU reach a BCS bowl like Hawaii did under Jones just five years ago, it's Harris. After all, he's arguably one of the top post-Death Penalty commitments SMU has landed and certainly the most decorated recruit in the Jones' era.
On his visit, Harris learned more about SMU's rich tradition, academics and also got a chance to sit down with Jones.
"I really enjoyed my visit. The campus is beautiful. Dallas is a great city, and I loved it all," he said. "I learned more about the academics and the business school, and it was all just really impressive. I think SMU is definitely a great fit for me.
"Coach Jones was also very laid back. I really respect him because he's produced plenty of great quarterbacks like Colt Brennan and Timmy Chang. He's an offensive genius. He told me was really looking forward to me running the offense, and that he really liked me. He was just a really cool guy to meet. I want to play in the NFL, and I feel he can help me get there."
But before Harris starts to think about his possible career in the pros and bright future at SMU, he knows he must focus on his upcoming senior season. This summer, Harris said he worked a lot on improving his footwork and accuracy.
It certainly helped this weekend when he led Pierce County to victory in the team's first scrimmage. Coming off a year where he passed for 2,466 yards and 29 touchdowns, Harris is expected to be one of the premier high school quarterbacks in the south.
And he'll have similar expectations once he steps foot on SMU's campus this spring. But pressure doesn't faze Harris. Make no mistake about it, he's ready for the challenge.
Harris Happy To Be A Mustang
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