Harrison, a Brown, joins elite Cougar club

CONSENSUS ALL-AMERICAN Jerome Harrison fell all the way to the fifth round Sunday in the NFL draft before finally being taken by the Cleveland Browns. He was the 145th overall pick, thus joining an elite fraternity of great Cougar running backs who have been taken among the top 150 picks in an NFL draft.

Harrison, who rushed for a record 1,900 yards this past season en route to consensus first-team All-America honors and a No. 9 showing in Heisman Trophy balloting, was the 11th running back taken. That put him almost exactly where most draft pundits forecast him to be taken -- but a good two rounds later than most pundits had slotted him on their boards.

His size, 5-9, 200, was considered a major impediment to him going higher.

No matter, early word out of Cleveland is that Browns fans are thrilled with their new man.

Four RBs went in the first round -– USC's Reggie Bush, Minnesota's Lawrence Maroney, Memphis' DeAngelo Williams and LSU's Joseph Addai. Two went in the second: USC's LenDale White and UCLA's Maurice Drew. Brian Calhoun of Maryland and Jerious Norwood of Mississippi State were third round picks and Leon Washington of Florida State and Prince (PJ) Daniels of Georgia Tech went in the fourth.

With those 1,900 rushing yards in 2005, Harrison passed Corey Dillon, Charles White and O.J. Simpson to move into fifth place all-time on the Pac-10 list for single-season rushing yards. Harrison finished this season with 2,113 all-purpose yards, five yards shy of legendary Bernard Jackson on WSU's single-season list.

"The Ghost," the pride of Kalamazoo, Mich., topped the 200-yard mark four times this season on his way to racking up 16 touchdowns and setting the all-time single season rushing record at Washington State. He ran for at least 100 yards in a Pac-10 record 14 consecutive games. In eight of 11 games in 2005, Harrison topped the century mark by halftime.

In assessing his draft outlook, CNNsi had this to say about Harrison: "Competitive ball carrier with outstanding running back skills. Displays terrific instincts, immediately finds the running lanes and has a burst through the hole. Runs with terrific balance, body control and follows blocks anywhere on the field. Fast, can run to daylight and consistently picks up positive yardage. Has a slashing style which allows him to create if plays break down. Solid pass catcher with soft hands .... Has possibilities as a third-down back/situational ball carrier."

HARRISON'S TOP 150 showing puts him in rarefied company among the great Cougar running backs over the years. The others who were drafted high were:

Steve Broussard (1st round Atlanta, '90);
Rueben Mayes (3rd round New Orleans, '86);
Andrew Jones (3rd round New Orleans, '75);
Bernard Jackson (4th round Cincinnati, '72);
Keith Lincoln (2nd round San Diego, 5th round Chicago, '61);
Bud Roffler (10th round Green Bay but 116th overall, '52)
Don Paul (4th round Cardinals, '50);
Bob Kennedy (4th round Philadelphia, '43);
Dick Renfro (11th round Detroit but 91st overall pick, '43).

Kennedy and Renfro are part of a remarkable bit of draft trivia, comprising half of a quartet of running backs from one school to be taken in the same draft. Also drafted in 1943 were Cougar backs Jay Stoves (14th round, 126th overall, New York Giants) and Frank Akins (30th round, 290th overall, Redskins).

Broussard, who played 10 years in the NFL, was the highest-ever Cougar RB pick, at No. 20 overall. Kennedy, a first-team All-American, was second-highest at No. 27 overall -- despite going in the fourth round of '43. He played five seasons for the New York Yankees of the old AAFC, which eventually folded into the Baltimore Colts.

Mayes was the 1986 Rookie of the Year and a two-time Pro Bowl selection. Jackson became a fixture at defensive back for the Broncos, while Jones' career was ended by injury. Lincoln was one of the biggest stars in the AFL throughout the 1960s, and Paul was a perennial Pro Bowl pick in the late 50s as a defensive back for Cleveland. Roffler played one year at DB for the Eagles before injury ended his career.

Jerome Harrison profile

Cougfan Top Stories