Harrell, the team captain who wears his emotions on his sleeve, knew the veterans were needed to step up and take charge in 2006 after a disappointing 2005 season. He was primed for a banner senior year, but suffered a ruptured left biceps tendon in the second game.
The team doctors ruled Harrell lost for the season and scheduled surgery, but the gritty veteran postponed the procedure one more week. He had his arm heavily bandaged and stepped out on the field with the starting unit for a crucial match-up against Florida. The Vols fought valiantly and Harrell produced three tackles with a stop behind the line of scrimmage, but the Gators rallied for a 21-20 victory. Right after the game, the team lost its injured star for the rest of the year. He finally went under the knife, which brought his Tennessee career to a close.
Harrell was a standout defensive lineman at Westview High School. He was selected Tennessee's Class 2A "Mr. Football" in 2001, adding Prep Football Report and PrepStar All-American honors. He was named West Tennessee's Defensive Player of the Year by the Jackson Sun and earned Class 2A all-state accolades, as he helped the 2001 team to a 13-2 record and a state runner-up finish. After his final season, he played in the Georgia-Tennessee All-Star Game.
A three-year starter on both offense and defense, Harrell caught 18 passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns as a tight end and recorded 72 tackles as defensive lineman, including 19 for loss, four sacks and eight pass deflections as a senior. During his junior year, he caught 21 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, he recorded 61 tackles, 12 for loss, and deflected four passes. He was also a three-year starter in basketball, as he scored 17 points per game his senior season.
Harrell enrolled at Tennessee in 2002, spending the season performing on the scout team. Hard luck with injuries limited him to eight games as a reserve defensive tackle in 2003. He missed more than half of spring drills after right leg surgery. In fall camp, he broke his ankle, sitting out the first five games. When he returned, he re-injured the ankle after only one snap against Miami and saw limited action the rest of the year. He finished with 10 tackles (5 solos), a stop for a loss and a quarterback pressure.
In 2004, Harrell started the team's first 11 games at right defensive tackle before an ankle injury against Kentucky would limit his play in the final two games. He registered 26 tackles (17 solos) with 11 pressures, 1½ sacks and 4½ stops for losses. He also batted down four passes and recovered a pair of fumbles.
Harrell started all 11 games in 2005, shifting to left tackle. He totaled 39 tackles (21 solos) with 2½ sacks and 7½ stops behind the line of scrimmage. He intercepted a pair of passes, returning one for a touchdown and was credited with eight pressures. He also caused one fumble and batted away three passes. For his performance, he earned second-team All-Southeastern Conference honors.
The defensive captain started the first three games of the 2006 season at left tackle before missing the rest of the season. He posted seven tackles (three solos) with a pressure and a stop for a loss. With Harrell in the lineup, the team rang up 2.33 sacks per game. With Harrell sidelined, the Vols had an average of one.
In 35 games, Harrell started 25 times. He registered 82 tackles (46 solos) with four sacks for minus-32 yards and 14 stops for losses of 57 yards. He collected 21 quarterback pressures, recovered two fumbles and caused four others. He knocked down eight passes and intercepted two for 36 yards in returns, including a touchdown.
Positives: Has thick upper-body mass with a firm chest, shoulders and good arm-muscle definition. … Has big hips, thick thighs and calves and room on his frame to add at least another 20 pounds of bulk with no loss in quickness. … Quick and explosive off the snap; even though he was used mostly to occupy multiple blockers at the line of scrimmage, he does a good job of anchoring and clogging up the inside rush lanes. … Has outstanding weight-room strength and is starting to learn how to translate that to the football field (must keep his hands inside and active to get full value out of his punch). … Does an effective job of combining aggressiveness with strength to create an explosive surge off the snap. … Maintains a low center of gravity to fill the inside lanes. … Will make plays downfield and shows good urgency closing on the ball. … Lacks ideal instincts, but shows no hesitation getting to the ball once he locates it. … Leader-by-example type who proved his moxie by refusing surgery to play with a ruptured biceps vs. Florida in 2006. … Responsible, mature type who really embraced the leadership role thrust upon him as a senior. … Will duck his head at times coming off the ball, but has the leg drive and burst to gain advantage. … If he learns to anticipate the snap quicker, he has that natural burst needed to dominate at the line of scrimmage. … When he hunkers his pads down and drive his foot into the ground, he is very effective at containing inside run plays. … Has good change-of-direction agility and it is rare to see him exposed on the move. … If he learns to use his hands better to gain leverage, he could be very effective in attempts to stack and control. … Has the strength to split double teams, but must be conscious of using his hands. … Compensates for a lack of ideal timed speed by taking proper angles to gain position to make the tackle working down the line. … Difficult to handle in one-on-one situations; he will constantly battle until the whistle. … Delivers a punishing hand jolt as he slides down the line of scrimmage and has the balance to sidestep and slip past the blocker when bull rushing. … Still plays more on his raw ability, but shows quickness reacting to the running plays, where his lateral agility is shown while giving chase. … Not much of a pass rusher; he is used more in run containment, but shows effective rip and club moves in attempts to get penetration. … More of a push type of pass rusher, but has the strength to gain inside penetration and is decent trying to adjust on the move. … Won't get to the quarterback when taking a wide loop, but up the middle he closes quickly on the quarterback, showing the leg drive and burst to collapse the pocket (better getting to the passer from his inside alignment than on the edge). … When he extends his long arms, he does a nice job of keeping blockers off him (needs to do this with more consistency, though).
Negatives: Not that "field smart" and needs to make quicker reads, but shows good urgency to pursue when he locates the ball. … Must learn to keep his head up coming out of his stance; this causes him to lose sight of the ball, especially when working through a crowd. … Has a good short-area burst, but when he overpursues, he lacks sharp stop-and-go action to redirect suddenly (will gather some). … Is susceptible to angle blocks and traps (mostly when he keeps his head down or fails to maintain inside position with his hands). … Lacks ideal hand placement to prevent blockers from getting underneath to lock on and ride him out of the play (blockers get their hands into his chest too often). … Has to improve his hand usage; blockers know they can attack his feet without him countering (must learn to keep his hands active in attempts to separate).
Compares To: Johnny Jolly, Green Bay. … Jolly might not have played much in 2006, but Harrell has that same explosion off the snap that lets both occupy multiple blockers. Harrell plays with the strength needed to take up space, and while he lacks sustained speed, he does explode off the ball. He needs to develop a better feel for the ball and must be more active with his hands. His main job is clogging and constricting the inside rush lanes, but he must create better separation with his hands if he hopes to improve his pass rushing skills. For a team looking for a plugger in the middle, Harrell could be the answer, if he is recovered from his torn biceps.
2003: Underwent right leg surgery (undisclosed injury) in March, missing more than half of spring drills. … Suffered a broken bone in his right ankle in August camp (8/08) that forced him to sit out the first five games of the season. … Re-injured the ankle after only one play in the Miami game upon his return.
2004: Left the Kentucky game and did not start the final two games due to a right ankle sprain.
2006: Suffered a torn left biceps tendon vs. Air Force (9/09). Played the next game vs. Florida, then missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery.
Campus: 5.08 in the 40-yard dash. … 500-pound bench press. … 500-pound squat. … 315-pound power clean. … 30-inch vertical jump. … 33¼-inch arm length. … 10-inch hands.
Attended Westview (Martin, Tenn.) High School, playing football for head coach Don Coady. … Standout defensive lineman who was selected Tennessee's Class 2A "Mr. Football" in 2001, adding Prep Football Report and PrepStar All-American honors. … Named West Tennessee's Defensive Player of the Year by the Jackson Sun and earned Class 2A All-State accolades, as he helped the 2001 team to a 13-2 record and a state runner-up finish. … After his final season, he played in the Georgia-Tennessee All-Star Game. … A three-year starter on both offense and defense, Harrell caught 18 passes for 354 yards and six touchdowns as a tight end and recorded 72 tackles as defensive lineman, including 19 for loss, four sacks and eight pass deflections as a senior. … During his junior year, he caught 21 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns. … Defensively, he recorded 61 tackles, 12 for loss, and deflected four passes. … Three-year starter in basketball who scored 17 points per game his senior season.
Sports Management major. … Born Justin Tyrell Harrell on 2/14/84. … Resides in Martin, Tenn.