For most prospective football recruits in the country, the level of their recruitment is predicated upon the strength of their junior season. While senior year evaluations can uncover late-blooming gems or firm up the case for a borderline prospect, schools build their recruiting boards based upon junior film, combines and camp performances. With that in mind, the following statistics might be cause for concern:
In every meaningful passing category, Sherrod Harris of Arlington (Tex.) Bowie High School hit the skids in his junior season, after putting up a widely heralded sophomore campaign. The Volunteers took a nose dive with him, dropping to a dismal 1-9 record in 2004. Their scoring per game dropped to just 12.9 after averaging more than 27 points the prior season.
"My sophomore year, we had a loaded senior team - three starters on the offensive line, four starting wide receivers and most of our defense," Harris details. "This year we lost a lot and played with a bunch of juniors and sophomores. But I don't lay the blame on anybody else. I take it all on my shoulders."
Harris is an athletically gifted signal caller, who has rushed for nearly a thousand yards in his two years under center for James Bowie High School. He ran an electronically timed 4.54 40 at the U.S. Army All-American Combine in San Antonio last month - a number incredible not just for its laser-measured timing, but also given that he ran it at midnight. The 6'3" 195-pound athlete has a strong arm and owns a 37-inch vertical leap. With all his tools, schools are not letting his junior season dampen their enthusiasm. He currently owns offers from Oklahoma State and Syracuse and has heavy attention from a national audience, spanning all geographies and conferences. From Texas to Iowa. From LSU to Michigan. From Florida State to Stanford.
"Because of my record, I've been set back," he comments on his perceived stock. "I'm ready to prove that I'm not inconsistent, and I'll work as hard as I can to do that. Losing this last year taught me how to fail, and that I have to work harder to bounce back from losing."
Harris is working with his wideouts more than ever, and he is focused on improve his footwork, which was responsible for a slow and awkward drop back. The only other thing in Harris' life that receives as much attention is his schoolwork. The Bowie High School junior student-athlete carries an unweighted 4.0 GPA, with several honors courses. To be clear, that 4.0 is exactly what it purports to be. Sherrod Harris has never known anything less than an 'A' in high school. The last time he slipped up, he was in junior high and came home with a 'C' in a speech class.
"My mom put me through a lot of pain that year because of that," he says with a chuckle. "She straightened me out."
The proud son has gone on to achieve not just in the classroom, but also in the testing room. He recorded a solid 1310 on the SAT in June of his sophomore year. Those academic numbers, in conjunction with Harris' on-field abilities, make him a clear target for the Cardinal. It should come as no surprise, then, that Texas recruiter and inside linebackers coach Darrell Patterson came to Bowie in January and is fast on the quarterback's case.
"Coach Patterson came to school. He came to watch a basketball game," the recruit describes. "They have a lot of interest and are proud of my grades. I call every once in a while and text message."
"I'm foremost looking at graduation rates at schools. It's been my dream to graduate from college - since before I played football," Harris adds. "Stanford has the academics, and they get the job done. My mom has always talked about education being the most important thing."
The first offer came for the quarterback last summer as he made a tour of some of the regional school's camps. He camped at Texas A&M and TCU, but it was a trip to Stillwater that made the biggest splash.
"Oklahoma State was the first to offer," Harris says. "I like the school and the location, and my cousin is up there."
The Cowboys are an offer that makes sense for the Arlington, but the second offer came as more of a surprise, when Syracuse took the plunge this month.
"[Quarterbacks coach] Major Applewhite called my coach and told him that Syracuse was offering me," Harris describes. "That makes me definitely take a look at their program. It makes me really proud that they noticed who I am and how I'm working hard. I would have no problem going to Syracuse. And I really liked [Applewhite] when he was a quarterback at Texas."
Sherrod Harris is one of the most highly regarded signal callers in the country in this 2006 class, and you can expect many more offers still to come. While he recognizes the significance of the two programs making the first offers for him, he has a long recruiting horizon and is in no hurry to jump to any decisions.
"I'm going to be excited about any school who has interest in me," he maintains. "I'm going to wait until Signing Day to make my commitment, and I'll take all of my trips. That will give more exposure to my teammates, as coaches watch our team and come to our school."
For the time being, Harris is willing to give us a tentative group of favorites. In no particular order, he lists Stanford, Texas A&M, Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Syracuse.
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