Inside the Class of '06: Sherrod Harris

The 3rd in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '06: Signee Sherrod Harris.

Sherrod Harris
Arlington Bowie High School
NR: 12 SR: 47 Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Arlington Bowie quarterback coach Michael Hill on Sherrod Harris:

IT: What are Sherrod’s strengths as a football player?

Hill: The one thing in my opinion that Sherrod has that any college coach would tell you -- I've heard it from all of them -- is that he has something that you just can't coach: he's an athlete. Sherrod does some things on the football that you just look at him and go, Wow! And it started early in his sophomore year when we were playing John Tyler at Tyler and it was one of the craziest games I've ever seen. Sherrod did some things on the field where people are coming at him, blitzing him, and he's just doing things naturally, and you wonder, God, how did he do that. There are some things you can work on but you can't simulate that kind of stuff in practice, escaping and seeing the field while you're on the run, and doing some things with his feet that you just can't coach, some of the things VY did in the Rose Bowl. Sherrod's not on that level yet but with the proper coaching and training and repetition at that level, I don't see why he can't be something pretty close to that.

IT: Do you view him as a dual-threat guy at the next level?

Hill: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. Because, first of all, his awareness. He knows when to take off running with the ball. He's knows situations real well. He tries not to put himself or the team in bad situations and he can get you out of a lot of bad situations with his feet. He's pretty phenomenal in that aspect.

IT: Is that just an innate ability that he has? With Vince Young, it looked so effortless. Is it somewhat similar with Sherrod?

Hill: It's very similar because, how can you coach it? You can coach a three-step drop. You can coach throwing a ball on a rope. You can coach throwing against a zone. But how do you simulate, three-step drop is not there, take off? I think you've just got it. And Sherrod, when he's at his best, he can do those things. He can do those things effortlessly.

IT: How much of it is the mental part of the game? He's obviously a very good student, a very well-spoken young man. How much of it is his intelligence?

Hill: That has a lot to do with it. That has a whole lot to do with it because of the simple fact that you could put a person that is not as a intelligent but has those same athletic abilities and I don't think they would be as sharp. His senior year, he was calling a lot of the game and he was very successful with it. So intelligence has to have a lot to do with it. But you know, when the ball is snapped, intelligence subsides a bit and you just go out and be an athlete and that's what he does.

IT: You mentioned that he called some of the games. Was he responsible for coming up to the line of scrimmage, reading what the defense was showing, and calling a play?

Hill: We would study film, we'd get on the board, and coach (Anthony) Criss and I would give him, If (you see) this, here are four or five plays that we can check off to. You have the freedom, we think all of these will work, we would like you to stay within this realm, but if you see something, feel free. And that's one of the things, we just gave him freedom. Sherrod, as you go we go, so if you feel like that you need to step outside of these boundaries a little bit, go for it. Take a chance. We weren't so pinned down on, You run this right now, because, to me, if you've got an athlete and you limit where he can go and where he can't go, you're taking away from what his best strengths are.

IT: Do you feel like allowing him that flexibility to use his mind so much makes him better prepared for the next level (because he's already had to make decisions on the fly)?

Hill: By all means. I played at Grambling State University under Eddie Robinson and he was a student of the game till the day he retired and one of the things that he always said, and I tried to instill in Sherrod, is I'm on the sideline. I trust you because we've met, we've watched the film, I trust you to make decisions. Even in practice, we let him make the decision. If it got to a time where we wanted to stick to one thing, we said, Hey, you're going to run this. But the things he did his senior year in high school -- and I think high school coaches are doing it all over the state, they're giving their quarterbacks the freedom and that's what it's going to take to be successful at the next level. Studying the film, studying the film -- you can't say that enough. As much as he came up early in the morning, Coach, can I get a cut up of this tape, I want to take it home. And he'd take it home. Sherrod, tell me what you saw. Tell me what you saw. Draw it up. Who do we need to stay away from? Who can we attack? Even in the interior line, he was doing the same thing and that's what he's going to take to the next level. That's what they're looking for, quarterbacks who are students of the game.

IT: Speaking of what they're looking for, what did the Texas coaches tell you that they like about Sherrod?

Hill: It was his leadership abilities -- it wasn't so much the things that were on the field -- his ability to run -- but his leadership ability and his willingness to learn. He's like a sponge. He's always trying to grasp it. He would go sometimes to our secondary meetings with our defensive backs coach and he would sit in there, constantly pulling (in information), and I think that's the biggest thing that a lot of people are impressed with about him is his will to grasp information.

IT: Obviously, the Texas quarterback situation is relatively wide open, with Colt McCoy a redshirt freshman and Jevan Snead a true freshman. How do you see Sherrod working into that situation?

Hill: I've talked with about this, he knows those guys are going to have the upper hand on him. One, because he's coming off of knee surgery. Two, because the Snead kid is (already on campus). I'm not going to knock those guys at all, I wish all of them the greatest, but I just think Sherrod Harris wants to be there and he is going to do whatever it takes. He doesn't want anybody to hand him anything and he's going to work, he's going to work, he's going to work, he's going to work.

IT: I know it's hard based on his situation right now (coming off of knee surgery), but what will he work on while he's still in Arlington and those other guys are down in Austin?

Hill: Pretty much, I think it's going to be his mental aspect, to get himself mentally ready to get down there on the campus and among the team, and just try to see how he's gotta take hold of being No. 3 or No. 4 on the depth chart when he gets there. He's got to come in with the mental mindset of, this is what I've gotta do because, even if I'm down there right now (in spring), I'm still coming off knee surgery, and those guys are at full speed. I've got to be mentally ready to step up to that challenge in the fall.

IT: You mentioned earlier that the Texas coaches liked his leadership ability and you guys obviously liked his leadership ability as well. How did he lead and what was it that made him such an effective leader?

Hill: Sherrod being the athlete that he is, it made the team follow him. He was first one here, he was the last one to leave, he led every drill. He talked about it, when we were having issues with kids working hard, coach didn't have the opportunity to get on them because Sherrod was there, Hey man, we've got to get it going. And Sherrod played hurt a lot of his senior year. We would hold him out of practice but he would still be there. I would have to take the ball from him. When he had the thing that we thought was a hernia, I knew something was wrong with him two or three days before it happened. I could just see he wasn't finishing his throws and I was like, Hey man, what's wrong? I'm alright coach, I'm alright, knowing full well that he was hurting. It really was a detriment to him to continue to do that while he was hurting but those are the type of things that his teammates saw and really rallied behind him. This guy's out here, he's hurt, and he's still going. That's just the type of person that he is.

IT: What did Sherrod mean to your football program?

Hill: For the last three years, Sherrod Harris was the Bowie football program. Even with (Ryan) Palmer and (Brandon) Foster and those guys that have gone to Texas already, Sherrod was the Bowie football program. And I'm not just talking on the field here, I'm talking more off the field. As he went, the team went. We weren't very successful on the field, but we saw progress week-in and week-out. Sherrod just made everybody around him that much better. We would be down in the game but you could always look around and see Sherrod with a smile on his face trying to make things better. It's just those intangibles right there.

IT: Is there a defining moment for you that exemplifies Sherrod's ability as a football player?

Hill: I would have to say going back to his sophomore year at Tyler, we're down two touchdowns or something, and Sherrod came off the field and said, Coach, we're going to win this game. And I'm thinking, We're down two touchdowns with maybe seven minutes in the game, and you're talking about we're going to win? Son, I just want to get it to within one touchdown, and he says, Coach, we're going to win this game. And he kinda convinced me. We went down and scored, the kickoff team went out and kicked the ball off, and I went up to the defensive coordinator and said, If you get it to me with two-and-a-half minutes left, we'll win. And that's what Sherrod had told me a couple of minutes earlier. He said, We're going to score here, and if you get it back to us with two-and-a-half minutes, we're going to win. That's what I went and told the defensive coordinator and by-God, that's what he did. I wish I could find the tape to show you. Matter of fact, I'm going to look for it here today.

IT: As his quarterback coach, what are the things you think he needs to work on to succeed at the next level?

Hill: Sherrod needs more work on throwing the deep ball. To me, that's where he needs to be a little bit more effective, throwing the deep ball. Intermediate and in he'll pick you apart.

IT: Is there a particular pattern that he is money on?

Hill: The sideline comeback, the out route. He's going to hit it. And he's going to hit it on the money every time.

IT: Is there anything you'd like to add about Sherrod that we didn't already cover?

Hill: The support of his family, his mother and his stepfather, they are phenomenal when it comes down to supporting Sherrod. They are just the best. And I don't think Sherrod would be the type of person that he is right now had it not been for a good upbringing.

Also see: Inside Scoop -- Jan. 27 edition

More exclusive Sherrod Harris photos

Exclusive Sherrod Harris combine video

UT's Signing Day bio: A three-time all-district pick and four-year letterman as a dual-threat quarterback … became Bowie High School's all-time leading passer (third all-time in Arlington ISD history) with 4,321 yards passing over his three seasons at quarterback … earned second team 7-5A all-district honors despite missing five games due to a hernia as a senior … named to Dave Campbell's Super Team third team in the preseason … posted 1,883 yards and 11 TDs and rushed for an additional 413 yards and six scores as a senior … recorded 969 passing yards, rushed for 385 yards and totaled 13 TDs as a junior … earned 5A third-team all-state and district 7-5A Sophomore of the Year honors in 2003 … threw for 1,469 yards and 16 TDs and scored six rushing TDs on 489 yards … played free safety as a freshman … also competed in basketball and track and field … ran the 200m and was a member of the 4x200 and 4x400-meter relays … a prep honor student who was a four-year academic all-district selection in all three sports … maintained a 4.0 GPA and scored 1310 on his SAT test … active in National Honor Society and Spanish Club … attended the American Legion's prestigious Boys' State summer program … volunteered delivering food with Arlington's local food banks … his uncle, Gerald Lawrence, played running back for Louisiana Tech … enjoys reading and writing poetry, as well as bowling … full name is Sherrod D. Harris … born March 17, 1988 in Irving, Texas.

"This is a school with great academics, athletics, and location. It is unique to combine all three aspects. Where else would you rather play football than in Austin, Texas?"


All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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