There might not be a more important player to keep tabs on this spring within Iowa State’s football roster than junior linebacker Jordan Harris.
That’s because the 5-foot-11, 233-pound product out of Copiah-Lincoln C.C. will more than likely be faced with the chore of replacing the Big 12’s leading tackler from a year ago, Jeremiah George, at middle linebacker when the Cyclones kick off the 2014 season vs. North Dakota State on Aug. 30.
It’s been a slow start to the spring for Harris, who led the NJCAA in tackles last season at 13.8 per game. To a point though, that was completely expected.
“He is getting better,” defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. “He’s had a lot to learn here. He’s had a lot to learn and understand. More assignment football than he was probably used to in the past.”
When asked the exact same question about Harris’ progress, head coach Paul Rhoads gave a nearly identical answer.
“He’s starting to be able to compete better because he’s starting to be able to understand a little better,” Rhoads said. “He was a ways off in what we are doing compared to what he has done in the past.”
Okay. So, will the guy be able to play this fall, or not? Don’t panic Clone fan. The potential is there.
“You can tell he is a player,” Burnham said. “He just has to learn what to do and when to do it. He’s going to go full speed. He is a downhill linebacker who will make some big plays. He had two or three big hits out there today. We are very pleased with his progress so far.”
“A lot of the stuff we are doing he has never been exposed to so that has held him back a little bit. When he just plays the game, you really see a very talented and physical football player.”
Go ahead and chalk this up as another example as to why it is so important to get junior-college prospects you are going to count on in Ames for spring drills.
What they expected
As far as the only other JUCO on campus, junior defensive end Gabe Luna, he has been exactly what Rhoads and the defensive coaching staff expected he would be.
“Gabe is doing well. He is exactly what we described on signing day,” Rhoads said. “He is a blue-collar Cory Morrissey type of player and is getting in mid-year just like him. I think he has a great opportunity to be ready to play in the fall.”
This one hurts.
Devron Moore was supposed to compete for Iowa State’s free safety job in 2014. However, the junior out of NE Oklahoma A&M C.C. is currently away from the program due to homesickness.
“He is back home right now and we are going to see here within the next week or two if he is going to be able to rejoin our program,” Rhoads said.
It’s no lock that Moore was going to start next year but this defense isn’t deep enough to keep losing guys, especially JUCO’s who were brought in to start.
For the sake of Wally Burnham’s sanity, let’s hope that Moore makes it back to campus sooner rather than later.