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Better Know a Freshman: Todd Harris

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Rangy safety will make immediate impact on Special Teams.

Corey Raymond seems perpetually in competition with himself to sign the greatest DB signing class in recruiting history. Just take a look at the work he’s done since arriving at LSU in 2012:

2013: Tre White, Rashard Robinson
2014: Jamal Adams, Ed Paris, Devin Voorhies, John Battle
2015: Kevin Toliver II, Donte Jackson, Xavier Lewis
2016: Kristian Fulton, Saivion Smith, Eric Monroe, Greedy Williams, Cameron Lewis
2017: JaCoby Stevens, Grant Delpit, Todd Harris, Kary Vincent, Jontre Kirklin

Despite all the loaded recruiting classes, only Saivion Smith has found his way out of the program. LSU’s heavy reliance on nickel formations means five different DBs see the field the majority of the time. LSU’s been fortunate to somehow enjoy being able to replace starters with experienced players while also adding an influx of young talent to buttress the unit.

While JaCoby Stevens already made the shift to offense, at least for 2017, Orgeron’s depth chart rundown yesterday indicates every other freshman DB will play in some capacity. Meaning yet again LSU will cycle in a new class of DBs with early playing experience that readies them for bigger future roles.

Todd Harris may not heavily factor in the DB reputation in 2017, but his impact will be felt immediately on special teams.

Back of the Card

110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.

100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career. There will be 32 prospects ranked in this range in every football class to mirror the first round of the NFL Draft.

97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who is projected to play professionally.

89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country. Many three-stars have significant pro potential.

79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.

247 Composite Ranking: ****
247 Composite Rating: .9589

Harris finished the season ranked 86th in the composite rankings, and as the 11th overall safety. He earned an invite to the Under Armour All-American game. During the practice week he impressed with his natural coverage instincts, often jumping routes, snagging interceptions.

Harris pushed off his commitment until National Signing Day and always seemed to be a fringe target for LSU, despite his top-100 status. By season’s end he took an official visit to Arizona State, then LSU, Alabama and TCU, in that order. His recruitment boiled down to an LSU/Alabama battle. Raymond diligently stayed on Harris from April of 2015 until signing day 2017, being the first to offer him a scholarship. In the end, the loyalty and diligence paid off and Harris chose the good guys.

At 6’0, 186 pounds, Harris is a smaller prospect, built more like a corner, which is pretty similar size to John Battle coming out, who is now listed at 6’3”, 201 pounds. He’s got some growing to do into his frame, but he’ll likely never be a big hammer like Jamal Adams.

On the Field

Already There: Physicality, Instincts, Zone Coverage, Range, ST Kamikaze

Working On It: Size

Doesn’t Have It: N/A

Already There

Physicality: He’s a back-end enforcer with the ball in the air. Check :47 where he makes the receiver pay for his troubles. 1:37, this time the WR comes down with it, but Harris explodes into him, delivering another punishing blow. 2:08 is one of those horrendous HS trick plays, but I’m impressed with Harris’ range and again the pop he lays once he gets to the ball carrier, actually jarring the ball loose. Not at all afraid to stick his nose in the run game, either, like he does at 3:29. He’s not just a throw-a-shoulder big hitter, either, his tackle at 3:46 is about as fundamental as it comes.

Instincts: Harris is a heady player that possesses a good sense of what he’s seeing in front of him. At 1:01, in the red zone, the offense gets tricky trying a HB pass and while Harris takes an initial step toward the run action, he’s able to quickly adjust to fall back on the receiver dragging in the back of the end zone for a nice INT. 1:18, despite being a horrific decision by the QB, you get a good idea of what he’s doing back there as you can see him watching the QB’s eyes fully. That’s a risky strategy as he climbs up the levels of football, but one that can pay off. Here it allows him to track the action of the play then make a strong break on the football for an INT.

Zone Coverage: Harris is at his best when deployed deep on the backend and allowed to use his speed to range and make plays in the passing game. He’s also like a vintage ball-hawking DB in that sense. I like seeing him at 2:30, playing an over the top zone and crashing down to make a PBU. 2:38 is another example where he’s playing over the top coverage and is able to break on the ball in the air and cause a breakup.

Range: Whether he’s correcting course on a HB pass like at 1:01, or playing over the top coverage at 2:30 and 2:38, Harris’ speed and range pop on tape. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry.

ST Kamikaze: O already declared him a ST starter, but this kid loves it. Start the reel at 5:00 and watch how aggressively he gets down the field looking to hit someone. He does not shy from contact and often makes the tackle. Seriously, Todd Harris devoted the last 1.5 minutes of his Senior highlight reel to “Watch me mess people up on Special Teams.” That says everything you need to know about Todd Harris. He’s not even the returner! He’s just running around smashing fools.

Working On It

Size: He’s light. If starting FS is in his future, and he has that potential, I’d like to see him at least around 205. That’s 20 extra pounds of muscle on his frame.

Poseur’s 80s Movie Comparison

Todd Harris is not slated for superstardom, not yet at least. But what he is already on pace to do is destroy people on special teams as a one man wrecking crew. This is how people eventually become stars at LSU. They spend a year making the coolest highlights by blowing guys up on special teams, then years later, when they are a starter and competing for All-SEC honors, we say we saw that special spark in them in that explosive debut.

IMP Awards.com

Near Dark isn’t technically Kathryn Bigelow’s debut. She co-directed The Loveless starring Willem Dafoe six years prior, but this is the movie which caused people to notice her. She showed up and started wrecking fools on special teams. Now, she is one of the most acclaimed action directors in history, and even has an Oscar on her mantle for The Hurt Locker.

Vampire movies have been done to death, even in 1987, and they tend to get flushed down the memory hole right after you see them. But Bigelow reimagined vampires as a roving band of outlaws who can’t rip you apart with their fangs, they have to kill you by more pedestrian means: lots and lots of guns. The bar shootout sequence is one of the best things you’ll ever see in an action movie. And while there’s technically a love story between a lost soul and corrupting temptress, the movie really belongs to the cryptic Lance Henriksen and the psychotic Bill Paxton. They wreck fools on special teams, too.

What the Future Holds

It’s insane that LSU fans can legitimately end a sentence with, “Oh and they also signed Todd Harris.” He’s somehow the forgotten man in a stout three-man Safety class, but his abilities should not be overlooked.

Harris isn’t the biggest player in the world, but his testing numbers are strong, particularly a 40-inch vertical, which should help compensate for his lack of length. Harris may be the third best safety in LSU’s signing class, but he’s a top-100 prospect for a reason.

I didn’t spend much time watching Harris’ tape during the recruiting season, largely because I suspected he would wind up at Alabama. My impressions of him weren’t stellar, just based on others input I’d heard. Yet, when I watched his tape, he really stood out to me. Harris definitely has starting safety potential, but it’s hard for me to find a complete comparison. He’s got some John Battle in him, though I don’t think he carries the same frame and he’s a better overall athlete.

He’s a bit more spindly than a lot of the safeties featured in Baton Rouge in recent years. But he’s the type of guy we should probably set a top the defense and let patrol. He’s got some ballhawking coverage ability to him, but he’s also not afraid to come up and lay a hit in the run game, either. One major reason coaches felt confident in moving Stevens to WR is because of what Harris showed while working at S this Fall. That’s promising.

His physical nature and fearlessness undoubtedly earned his starting spot on the Special teams units in 2017. That’s a great way to get his feet wet as he adds the necessary weight and steps into bigger roles in the near future.

High End: All-Conference safety that leads the league in INTs and surprises with big hits.
Low End: Gets lost in LSU’s riches of DBs and never finds his footing before leaving the program.
Realistic: I think he’s an eventual starter at FS, though timing isn’t great with Delpit signing in the same class. That could slide him to Nickel, though classmate Kary Vincent kinda has the upper-hand there as well. Ultimately though, Harris will be too good to keep off the field. They’ll find a way to make use of him.