Inside the Class of '07: Ian Harris

The 6th in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '07: tight end Ian Harris.

Ian Harris
Tight End
San Antonio Churchill HS
National Rank at TE: 26
Overall State Rank: 62

An Inside Texas conversation with San Antonio Churchill head coach Carl Gustafson on Ian Harris:

Inside Texas: We're you personally excited when he (Harris) committed to Texas?

Carl Gustafson: Oh, I'm excited. I'm excited for Ian. Ian is a great kid. He's a terrific role model on this campus and a great leader. Just a likeable guy, got a lot of charisma, real intelligent, but it's not a superficial thing. It's what he's about and he's sincere about what he does. Here's a guy that has all this ability, but more than that it was the intangibles that he has and qualities that I think are the most impressive, because it enabled him to take this ability and make the most of it, but also to take those intangibles that are important on a team and get the most out of his teammates. It in enabled him to be a better player, but it enabled him teammates to be better too and I think any team he's involved on, that'll be the case.

IT: So he's one of those real character guys that other guys on the team gravitate to?

Gustafson: Yes, we pride ourselves on our athletes being good role models and they're supposed to be good citizens and they set the tone for this campus and our community and Ian's been carrying the torch for that. That's what excites me the most about him, being able to go to the University of Texas. That's where I went to school, that where my dad ran on the mile relay team -- he was a lot better athlete than I was, I'll tell you that -- but, there was never question where I was going to school. Obviously I'm connected to that school, but I had no influence at all on Ian. [Note: Carl Gustafson's uncle is former Texas baseball coach Cliff Gustafson] This was Ian's choice, it was his family's choice, but Texas was always his first choice. When the recruiting thing stats, you never really know where it's taking you and obviously from the get go he wanted to go to the University of Texas and then as recruiting goes you're not sure how interested other schools are. As close relationships developed over time, it was just a great thing that it cycled back and Ian had an opportunity to commit to his first choice.

IT: Was Texas in touch with him throughout the whole process?

Gustafson: Oh yeah, most definitely. There were probably times where they were more in touch just because of schedules are recruiting times of the year, but cause Ian had committed to play at another school, what impressed me the most was that the coaches at the University of Texas handled that in the right way and in a professional way. They understood it. They respected it. Some coaches may not respect that commitment and they keep pounding and they keep recruiting and they keep talking. When they (Texas) came back into the picture, they made it known that, "If you want to talk to us, great, if not, you've made a commitment, we certainly understand that."

IT: Do they go through you to do that?

Gustafson: In some ways and then they also contacted Ian and his parents. But that's how they handled it and that showed a lot of class. These young men have a lot of pressure on them and it was refreshing to see…obviously I have a strong bias and I'm very loyal to that school, but I'm really proud of how they handled that. I love the University of Texas, but now I see from the inside, or at least a closer view from the outside, how they've handled those kids and how they recruit those kids and it just reinforces what I've thought about Mack Brown and his staff for a long time. We've got a couple coaches who are ex-students, alumni from Texas A&M. One of our coaches was a 12th Man who ran down on the kick-off team. And when Mack Brown came down to visit, Coach Harold Huggins even said, when Coach Brown and Coach Akina left, "You know, it makes it real hard not to like the University of Texas." And obviously their allegiance will never change, but they respect Coach Brown and the University of Texas. I think they always have. For them to admit that, that's pretty big.

Left: Churchill QB Nick Fanuzzi, Right: Harris

IT: So Ian's interest in the other schools was because the offer and the opportunity was already there?

Gustafson: Well the University of Texas recruited Ian early in the process, early last spring, and then I think the University felt they were going to go in another direction. There were some other guys they were going to pursue and some of it really was my doing. Because Ian is such a great athlete, last year we split him out every down, just about. Probably 95% of the time we split him into a wide receiver role, knowing that he was a great athlete and a great blocker and had all this intelligence in blitz protections. Then this year we moved him back into tight end, so this year they have video of him at tight end. Then when they saw that, I think they were sold. I don't want to speak for them, but initially they saw him as this role and decided maybe to go after some other guys and I think that's when those other schools moved in and started talking to Ian. From what I understood, they had a player who decommitted and wanted to go to another school (Springdale TE Zack Pianalto), it opened up a spot and now, "Hey, remember that Harris kid?" We got some video up there to them. Ian played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and there were some players that had committed to the University of Texas and they really connected with Ian and I think they made some contacts and said, "Hey, this kid, he's the best tight end we got on both teams. He can block this guy," you know? So they got back on him, watched some video. From what Coach Akina told me, they watched about three or four plays and Coach Brown said "We got off of this guy?! He's 80 miles down the road!" But it all worked out. I couldn't be more proud.

IT: It'll be real fun now for you, too, to watch him play for Texas.

Gustafson: Oh, I know. I coached in New Braunfels Canyon for a couple years and we had a boy who played linebacker for us named Reed Boyd and I love Reed. A lot of the same qualities that Ian has. Good person, good family and in fact Reed comes down every year. He's living in Round Rock and he'll come down and watch one of our games and came and talked to us this fall. One of the proudest moments I've ever had as a coach, he's senior year (at Texas), we were playing Tech in Austin and it was Senior Day. Well, Reed comes out of the tunnel and he's carrying the flag and I'm thinking, "Wow." That was a special time because, as a coach, when you coach 'em, they're yours. And so he went up there and was real successful and I'm confident Ian will too.

Also see: First Texans Named to Army Game

Discusses All-American Selection

Ian Harris is the First Arrival

Ian Harris: Third Time's a Charm

Harris: Excited To Bring Title Back To Texas

UT Signing Day Bio: Prep All-American and all-state performer … a two-sport letterman who was an all-district basketball player as well … was named a captain by the coaching staff at the 2007 U.S. Army All-American Bowl … a three-year letterman at tight end who tallied 67 receptions for 793 yards and 16 TDs during his career … averaged one TD catch in every 4.2 receptions during his career … named first team all-district 26-5A and first-team all-area as a senior … notched 15 receptions for 106 yards and three TDs … named first team all-district 26-5A as a junior … had 24 receptions for 298 yards and five TDs … earned all-district 25-5A as a sophomore … had 28 receptions for 389 yards and eight TDs … averaged a career- best 13.9 yards per reception that year … also lettered for three years as a power forward on the basketball team … averaged 10 points and eight rebounds a game … earned second-team all-district honors as a junior … was named to the honor roll as a senior … volunteers as the coach of a fifth grade YMCA basketball team … is involved with his church youth group … enjoys playing video games, pool and basketball … brother, Gilbert Harris, Jr., played fullback at the University of Arizona from 2003-05 and is currently playing football in Europe … born 11/17/88 in San Antonio, Texas.



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