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MESQUITE, Texas - From the days of Derrick Strait and Brandon Everage to the more recent dominating performances of Javon Harris and Aaron Colvin Oklahoma has made a living through the years with defensive backs that many others missed on. While Mesquite Horn's Devante Harris is far from unknown there are numerous schools who failed to pursue the 5-foot-11, 160-pound, most notably the program his father starred for in the 1980s, Texas A&M.
However as SoonerScoop.com went by Horn to watch him work out late last week it became clear why Kansas State, Mississippi State, North Texas, SMU, Stanford, and Virginia also extended offers to the talented cornerback.
The first thing to address for many corners is just sheer size, is he a player that can hold up in all defensive styles or is he a niche' prospect. In the case of Harris something have used his height and weight to create an idea that he is a bit undersized but talking to a few members of his coaching staff and simply watching his style of play the idea is quickly debunked.
"His arms are just so long that he plays more like he is 6-foot-2 than 5-foot-11," two different Horn coaches noted.
During the workout Harris worked unanimously at receiver, where he is a big part of their plan to try and replace future Big 12 wideouts Jacorey Shepherd and Jakeem Grant. But that's not to say that a lot of the skills that made him a desirable target for the Sooner coaching staff were not on display.
One of the biggest problems for athletes like Harris who are long-legged is often their ability to change direction and just general footwork. In the case of Harris the usual problems are exactly what makes him different, and thus special. While he can sometimes play a bit high in and out of his cuts, as you watch him you realize that's more a matter of consistency than lack of ability.
As Harris starts to demand the best of himself he'll find a more constant level of play and clear up some of the concentration issue that strike him from time to time both on film and going through drills.
However, it's that consistency that is a big part of simply finding a hole in a game that otherwise possesses scary upside. Harris' track background makes his long speed no surprise but the footwork and agility that was mentioned makes him much quicker in tight space than one might anticipate.
It's easy to expect a cornerback prospect with Harris' offer sheet to be quick, have a willingness to be physical, and when you add in his work against Shepherd and Grant through his career it's clear he knows how to compete against talented receivers.
However in the end it's his ball skills that truly make him a special player. Be it jump balls or simply reading the ball and reacting to it more quickly than his adversary Harris just seems to be a natural reacting to the ball in the air.
*Harris has certainly left the tag of 'unknown' behind but he hasn't forgotten what it looks like, if he has all he need do is look at Horn's talented tight end prospect Vincent Hobbs. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound prospect doesn't yet hold an offer but with his mixture of speed and size look for the many interested schools to change that. By the time things are all said and done don't be surprised to see an offer list comparable to current Sooner tight end James Hanna in the class of 2008.