An unheralded athlete prior to his senior season, Harrison certainly earned national recognition with his record-breaking 2005 campaign. The compactly built runner has drawn comparisons to former St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals great, Stump Mitchell, for his explosive burst and quick acceleration through the hole.
The Kalamazoo High School product was an All-America honorable mention and Detroit Free Press All-State selection as a senior. He added All-Conference first-team and All-State honorable mention during his junior year, serving as team captain during both seasons. He shattered school season records as a senior, piling up 2,338 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground.
Harrison decided to stay in state during 2001, enrolling at Eastern Michigan University. Because of his academics, he was forced to enroll at Pasadena Community College for the next two seasons. He ran for 790 yards in seven regular season games in 2002 and, including playoff action, finished that season with 1,033 yards and 11 touchdowns on 122 attempts (8.5 avg).
He earned All-Mission Conference honors in 2003, carrying 174 times for 1,059 yards and 10 scores. In two seasons with the Lancers, he gained 2,092 yards with 21 touchdowns on 296 rushing attempts (7.1 avg), becoming the school's first player to rush for over 1,000 yards twice in a career. He also gained 299 yards with a score on 31 receptions.
Harrison transferred to Washington State in 2004. He started only five games as a junior, but still managed to lead the team with 900 yards and nine touchdowns on 174 carries (5.2 avg). He added 69 yards on 10 catches and 172 yards on 10 kickoff returns (17.2 avg), amassing a total of 1,154 yards in his first year as a Cougar.
Harrison had a sensational spring camp prior to the 2005 season, with his teammates nicknaming him "Ghost" for the way he seemed to disappear coming out of the backfield on long runs. The "Ghost" scared quite a few opponents during his final year, as he ranked third in the nation in rushing (172.73 ypg) and all-purpose yardage (192.09 ypg). He set school season records with 1,900 yards and 16 touchdowns, carrying 308 times (6.2 avg). He also improved his receiving skills, catching 24 passes for 206 yards (8.6 avg) and a score. He totaled 2,113 all-purpose yards and scored 102 points.
In 22 games with the Cougars, Harrison started 16 times. He carried 482 times for 2,800 yards (5.8 avg) and 25 touchdowns. He also caught 34 passes for 275 yards (8.1 avg) and a score. Including his time at Pasadena College, Harrison amassed 4,892 yards on 778 rushing attempts (6.3 avg) and 46 touchdowns. He also gained 574 yards with two scores on 65 receptions (8.8 avg) and returned 12 kickoffs for 196 yards (16.3 avg.). He averaged 134.81 all-purpose yards per game and 7.62 yards each time he touched the ball (855 times) as a collegian. He closed his career with a string of 14 consecutive games with at least 100 yards rushing.
Positives: Has a well-built frame with good overall muscle tone, tight waist, loose hips and exceptional acceleration
When he bounces to the outside, his burst and explosion allow him to consistently win foot races into the deep secondary
Has good vision and developed better patience waiting for his blocks to develop as a senior
Hard to bring down in isolated coverage because of his leg drive and low center of gravity
His size becomes an advantage, as he is very adept at using his frame to squeeze through tight quarters
Hits the seams with suddenness and is very good at spotting cutback lanes
Has the balance to redirect and the acceleration to explode past trash into the second level.
Negatives: Lacks the size, bulk and field strength to absorb punishment featured backs experience at the next level
Does a good job of recognizing schemes and coverages, but has struggled in the past with academics and this could pose a problem if asked to digest a complicated playbook
Made good improvement as a senior, but in the past he would dance around too much in the backfield and then attempt to bounce outside rather than drive up the gut between tackles
Needs to improve his route-running ability, as he takes soft angles and gathers some coming out of his breaks
Has natural hands, but prefers to let passes absorb into his body rather that reach and pluck the ball
Size and lack of bulk make him a non-factor as an in-line blocker
Most of his fumbles have come on the handoff exchange and he needs to hold the ball closer to his frame when turning the corner to prevent the costly fumble.
Harrison is an undersized tailback, but has a compact frame with good overall muscle tone. He has a tight waist and hips, good bubble and tapered thighs and calves. Harrison is regarded as more quick than fast, but is the type that instantly accelerates through the hole. He has change of direction agility and body control. He attacks creases with good urgency and has the vision to quickly read schemes and coverages. His ability to plant, drive and generate an explosive burst will generally leave defenders grasping at air trying to tackle him around the corners.
In 2005, he showed much better patience waiting for his blocks to develop. In the past, he would dance around in the backfield too much before deciding to bounce to the outside, but he has now learned to read his blocks and spot cutback lanes. He is a jitterbug type of runner whose short steps and knee lift allow him to avoid trash between the tackles, but still is best when he takes the ball to the perimeter (not a pile mover).
Because of his size and low pad level, he is effective at slipping through tight quarters. He keeps his shoulders square and when he finds a seam he will usually break into the second level. He will never be confused for a power runner, but his low center of gravity lets him gain valid yardage. He is tough to tackle in isolated coverage, as he constantly drives his legs and leans forward to gain advantage.
Few tailbacks are as explosive as Harrison on the toss sweep. He has excellent open field acceleration and can simply outrun defensive linemen and linebackers past the line of scrimmage. His burst is evident in the quickness he shows getting to the edge, and he has the second gear to take the ball long distances (see 2005 Idaho, Stanford, UCLA, Southern California and Arizona State games).
Harrison has very good balance through the rush lanes. He needs to do a better job with ball security, though, as he sometimes fails to run with the football in the right hand, leaving it exposed for the costly fumble. He also needs to do a better job with the handoff exchange, as five of his nine fumbles the last two years have come when trying to run before having the ball tucked in.
Harrison is a decent receiver in the short area, but does not have a good concept for route-running. He tends to round his cuts and will gather some coming out of his breaks. He prefers to let the ball absorb into his body, but with some patient coaching, he has the natural hands needed to pluck and reach for the ball.
Because of his size, he will generally get overrun in attempts to block in the backfield. He is a scrappy blocker who will get in the face of a defender, but frequently lunges at the ankles of linemen. Harrison is more functional as a cut blocker, as he has the vision to locate and the speed to close and be a nuisance for the linebackers when blocking in space.
In what seems to be a recent trend, colleges are producing smaller tailbacks than in the past. However, at the next level, size and power are premium. Harrison will be a very effective change of pace back, similar to what the Miami Dolphins had in Mercury Morris during the 1970s. He will need to refine his route-running skills and develop more power as a blocker if he hopes to be anything more than a situational player in the pros.
With that exceptional burst and acceleration, he is worth a mid-round pick to see if he can provide a spark for the offense. The most noticeable thing you see on film is how quick he can attack a defense in the game. In 2005, six of his scoring runs came on the team's first two drives, including two on the squad's first play from scrimmage in those games. Envision him sort of as a football version of the NBA's Allen Iverson ? able to strike at a moment's notice.
Because he only played two seasons at Washington State, most of his records are season rather than career marks
His 2,800 yards rushing as a Cougar rank fifth in school history behind Rueben Mayes (3,519 yards, 1982-85), Steve Broussard (3,054, 1986-89), Shaumbe Wright-Fair (2,938, 1989-92) and Tim Harris (2,830, 1979-82)
His 1,900 yards on the ground in 2005 broke the old school season record of 1,637 by Rueben Mayes in 1984
His 482 carries rank sixth in WSU history and his 25 rushing touchdowns rank second, surpassed only by Steve Broussard's 33
His 3,267 all-purpose yards as a Cougar is the sixth-best career total in school history, topped only by Broussard (4,635), Mayes (4,418), Wright-Fair (3,804), Harris (3,584) and Bernard Jackson (3,474, 1970-71)
Harrison's 2,113 all-purpose yards in 2005 was just shy of Jackson's WSU season record of 2,118 in 1971
His four 200-yard rushing performances in 2005 broke the old school season record of three by Mayes in 1984
Set another school record by rushing for at least 100 yards in each of his final 14 games.
Consensus All-America first-team selection and unanimous All-Pac 10 Conference first-team choice
Ranked third in the nation in both rushing (172.73 ypg) and all-purpose yardage (192.09 ypg)
Led the Pac-10 with a school season record 1,900 yards and 16 touchdowns on 174 carries
Fumbled six times, with the opposition recovering three
Had 33 runs for at least 10 yards, including 14 of 20 yards or longer (had five runs for 50-plus yards)
Caught a career-high 24 passes for 206 yards (8.6 avg) and a score
Led the team in scoring with 102 points
Added 7 yards on a kickoff return
Amassed 2,113 all-purpose yards
Ran for at least 100 yards in each of the team's 11 games, including a school-record four 200-yard performances.
|2005 Game Analysis|
Opened the season with 165 yards on 24 carries, scoring on an 80-yard burst on WSU's first play from scrimmage, followed by a 4-yard scoring run later in the first quarter
Also had a 14-yard catch
His 80-yarder was the 10th-longest run in school history and the longest since Frank Madu gained 87 yards vs. Nebraska in 1995.
Rushed 18 times for 121 yards and had a 15-yard reception.
Ran for three touchdowns and 113 yards on 23 attempts and made a pair of catches for 56 yards
Capped a first quarter 80-yard, 7-play drive with a 1-yard scoring run, followed by another 1-yarder later in that quarter and a 2-yarder in the fourth quarter.
Followed with 31 attempts for 124 yards and three touchdowns, but also fumbled once.
Registered his first 200-yard game as a Cougar, collecting 218 yards on 29 carries (7.5 avg)
Set up one touchdown with a 69-yard burst and also scored on an 8-yard run to finish an 8-play, 80-yard drive in the third quarter
His 218 yards rank sixth on the school's single-game list.
Continued his torrid pace, gaining a career-high 260 yards on 34 attempts, including 57 and 21-yard touchdowns
Caught three passes for 12 yards
However, he fumbled twice, with the UCLA defense recovering one of them
His 260 yards are topped only by Bernard Jackson (261 vs. Oregon in 1971) and Rueben Mayes (357 vs. Oregon in 1984) in WSU history
It also marked only the second time in school history that a Cougar rushed for over 200 yards in consecutive games, joining Mayes with that honor (Mayes had 357 vs. Oregon and 216 vs. Stanford in 1984)
His 272 all-purpose yards rank third in WSU history behind Mayes' 375 vs. Oregon in 1984 and Deron Pointer's 282 vs. Arizona State in 1993.
Added 162 yards on 26 runs (6.2 avg).
Turned the ball over on a fumble, but managed 147 yards on 21 rushes (7.0 avg), including a 13-yard touchdown.
Fumbled once, but capped a 5-play, 80-yard drive with a 61-yard scoring run in the first quarter and finished off a 73-yard, 6-play drive in the third quarter with a 7-yard touchdown run
Finished the day with 38 carries for 240 yards
Also had four catches for 19 yards
His 240 yards rank fifth and his 259 all-purpose yards rank seventh on WSU's single-game list.
Rushed 28 times for 143 yards and a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter
Caught four passes for 38 yards, including a 34-yard score on a pass from QB Alex Brink, but also turned the ball over once on a fumble.
Closed his career with 36 carries for 207 yards (ninth-best game total in school history) and a 19-yard score
Totaled 40 yards on five receptions
His 247 all-purpose yards are the ninth-best game total in school history.
All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention
Played in every game, starting the final five
Led the team with 900 yards and nine touchdowns on 174 carries (5.2 avg)
Had 10 receptions for 69 yards (6.9 avg)
Returned 10 kickoffs for 172 yards, adding 13 more yards on a punt return
Fumbled six times, with the opposition recovering three.
|2004 Game Analysis|
His WSU career got off to a rough start, as he rushed three times for minus-1 yard, but gained 36 yards on three catches.
Carried four times for 34 yards, scoring his first touchdown as a Cougar on a third quarter 19-yard run that capped a 7-play, 70-yard drive.
Turned the ball over on a fumble, but powered his way into the end zone for a 2-yard score that finished an 80-yard, 12-play drive in the first quarter, adding 23 yards on a reception.
Gained 117 yards on only 14 carries (8.4 avg), scoring on a 1-yard run.
Picked up 84 yards on 16 attempts and ran for a 10-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Totaled 98 yards on 20 attempts, including a 19-yard scoring burst through three defenders to cap a 5-play, 76-yard drive in the third quarter in his first start as a Cougar.
Simply dominated the action in a 31-29 victory over UCLA, running for a season-high 247 yards (fourth-best game total in school history) on 42 carries, breaking the school single-game of 41 by Steve Broussard vs. Oregon in 1989
Fumbled on his only reception, resulting in an 8-yard loss and a turnover
Had touchdown runs of 25 (on the Cougars' first play from scrimmage), 45 and 10 yards
His 247-yard effort would mark the beginning of Harrison's record string of 14 consecutive 100-yard performances before the end of his WSU career.
Followed with 19 carries for 118 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.
Closed the season with 150 yards on 21 runs, but fumbled the ball once.
Enrolled at Eastern Michigan, but failed to qualify under NCAA Proposition 48 rules.
No injuries reported.
Campus: 4.54 in the 40-yard dash
405-pound bench press
30 -inch arm length
14/27 Wonderlic score.
Combine: 4.47-second 40-yard dash.
19 reps at 225 pounds.
34 1/2-inch vertical jump.
10'4" broad jump.
Lettered twice at Pasadena (Calif.) City College (2002-03), playing football for head coach Tom Maher
First player in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in two seasons.
All-Mission Conference first-team selection
Named City College Player of the Year and Male Athlete of the Year
Rushed 174 times for 1,059 yards (6.1 avg) and 10 touchdowns
Amassed 255 yards with three scores on 27 carries vs. Santa Ana and gained 162 yards on 33 tries vs. Saddleback.
Appeared in seven regular season games and the Potato Bowl
Picked up 790 yards with nine scores on 100 carries (7.9 avg) during the regular season and increased his yearly totals when he scored twice and piled up 243 yards on 22 attempts vs. Moorpark in the Potato Bowl.
Attended Kalamazoo (Mich.) High School, playing football for head coach Bob Kubiak
All-America honorable mention and Detroit Free Press All-State selection as a senior
Added All-Conference first-team and All-State honorable mention during his junior year, serving as team captain during both seasons
Shattered school season records as a senior, piling up 2,338 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground.
Son of Debbie and Jerome Purcell
Resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan.