Commitment Date: 1/26/16
Commitment in the Class: 24th
Accolades: Denver Prep League Offensive MVP and first-team all-conference pick as a senior, completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,347 yards and 17 touchdowns along with 330 rushing yards ... also first-team all-conference at defensive back, logging four interceptions ... second-team all-conference at defensive back as a junior, recording three INTs ... first-team all-conference at QB as a sophomore, throwing for 1,621 yards and 17 touchdowns ... two-year team captain ... four-year starter in basketball ... second-team all-state selection and first-team All-Denver Prep League as a sophomore, helping East win Class 5A state championship ... father, Damian, played football at Florida State and is a member of Arena Football League Hall of Fame, standing as league’s career record-holder in receptions (1,164), receiving yards (15,134), and touchdown receptions (357) ... father was two-time Arena League Offensive MVP (2005, 2006) and was named one of 10 best players in league history in 2012.
Recruiting Story: Harrell was born to play football, although his game needed some refining. According to his high school coach, all aspects of Harrell’s game needed polishing after his sophomore varsity season, but his intangibles – athleticism, football IQ and 4.4 40-yard dash speed – couldn’t be taught. In one game his junior season, Harrell threw three touchdown passes and nabbed an interception to seal the victory.
But even with his developing football skills, high talents on the basketball court and being solid academically (3.2 GPA, 25 ACT), Harrell didn’t get any scholarship offers, not even from nearby Air Force, Colorado State or Wyoming.
Wisconsin doesn’t recruit Colorado, or really any state in the Midlands, but Wisconsin coaches Joe Rudolph and Mickey Turner got a tip from some of their fellow alumni that Harrell was a prospect worth looking at. After looking at the film and getting to know him, the duo felt it was worth going to scout him in person. They weren’t disappointed.
Wisconsin brought him on campus for an official visit in January and offered him a grayshirt offer, an opportunity that would allow him an extra semester to develop without spending a year of eligibility. Wisconsin was the first school to take a chance on Harrell, and he rewarded them by committing to the program.
Why Wisconsin? “This was the opportunity I had been waiting for a long time, and I was just hopeful that Wisconsin would offer me on this visit. Good things happened for me. I just loved the atmosphere of being around the coaches and the players. They were all great people, along with the students. It made it a fun place to be at.”
Scouting Report: When you start watching the film on Harrell, the word “how” comes to mind, as in “how did some school not offer this kid a scholarship offer?” Harrell has a lot of the raw intangibles that makes a solid college football player. He’s 6-3 and runs a 40-yard dash in sub-4.5 seconds, two things right there that intrigued Wisconsin for a player projected to play cornerback.
Like many of the best players on a high school team, Harrell played quarterback in addition to his role on defense. As the team’s QB, Harrell ran a lot out of the pistol formation to take advantage of his open-field speed.
While receiver might be Harrell’s more natural position, as he’s got great hands, moves well and can deliver yards after the catch, he looks like he has a future at cornerback with his big frame, long arms, ability to get in and out of breaks and cover a lot of ground. His athleticism is evident and is reinforced with his ability on the basketball court. More importantly is that he’ll develop, which is great news for Wisconsin.
Coach’s Quote: “Anytime you can see a guy who is the leader of his football team, leader of his basketball team, playing quarterback, playing corner, it’s worth at least checking on him. I’m glad we did. Anytime you go into a new situation, you’re looking for those red flags to find out why this kid isn’t getting more attention, but he was a basketball guy who slowly fell into a football role. Everyone from the football coach, to the pastor, to the basketball coach told us he’s a great kid and we’re getting a steal. Right off the bat, we knew there was something special about him. He does well in school and he surprised us with how big, long and athletic he is.” – Wisconsin tight end coach Mickey Turner, who recruited Harrell.
BadgerNation Prediction: There’s an outside chance Harrell could join the team this fall on a full scholarship, as Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said the decision of when Harrell would enroll is his choice. As of last week, Harrell said that conversation hasn’t taken place, but he is still comfortable spending the next year in Denver working on improving his game. Harrell said his opportunity at Wisconsin has motivated him to work “extra harder, get bigger, faster, stronger, quicker to get ready for the season.” When Harrell locks in on one position, he has the chance to become a special player.