Junior college offensive tackle Desmond Harrison (San Pablo, Calif./Contra Costa College) has been around the recruiting trail enough to know when something feels genuine and when it’s a coach just telling him what he wants to hear.
Following his official visit to Oklahoma over the weekend, he said it’s the former when it comes to OU’s interest and his interest in the Sooners.
“Coaches will tell you a lot of things, but for me, I just observe everything myself,” Harrison said. “I was down there and thinking how comfortable I felt. And I did feel very comfortable.”
Harrison is a major target not just because of his 6-foot-8, 310-pound frame but because of what a position of need offensive tackle is for OU’s 2013 class.
The Sooners have one tackle commit in three-star prospect Dalton Rodriguez (Tulsa, Okla./Union), but he didn’t take a snap at tackle in high school, playing solely defensive end throughout his career.
It’s not something lost on OU coach Bob Stoops, either. Harrison said Stoops let it be known Harrison could come in and make a huge immediate impact.
“He stressed to me in a major way that no other school I’m looking at needs a tackle more than OU,” Harrison said. “He said I would get an opportunity to start at left tackle, and I would play in some of the biggest games possible.”
Harrison said it was key for him to spend more time with Stoops and OU offensive tackles coach Bruce Kittle to get to know their personalities more. After spending more time with the staff, Harrison said he knows OU is a place he feels he could fit in.
There might be no more important relationship in football than a quarterback and his offensive line. How important is Harrison to Stoops? He had quarterback Blake Bell host Harrison on his visit. To go along with Bell, Harrison spent a lot of time with left tackle Tyrus Thompson.
“Tyrus told me it won’t be easy, but if you work hard, OU will make you the best player you can possibly be,” Harrison said. “I had a great time hanging out with Tyrus, Blake and a lot of the other guys. I felt real comfortable.”
One reason he might have felt even more comfortable was because of the environment. Bedlam against Oklahoma State was OU’s third huge recruiting weekend at home. But the other two opportunities were disappointing losses to sixth-ranked Kansas State and No. 1-ranked Notre Dame.
OU had to play catch up for most of Saturday’s 51-48 overtime victory, but the Sooners came out on top when it mattered.
“The game atmosphere was incredible,” Harrison said. “I can’t say enough about how much fun that was. The town is nice. The campus isn’t hard to figure out, and the people are so nice.”
But Harrison reiterated he is in no rush to make a decision. He has an official visit to Arizona State this weekend, followed by a trip to Texas the next weekend.
Harrison has already visited North Carolina State and went to high school in North Carolina. But he’s a native Texan and admits he has been a Longhorns fan for a long time.
After the visits is when the real stress will come.
“This process has been OK so far,” Harrison said. “After all my visits, I’m going to sit down with my mom and coach and evaluate things. I’m in no rush. I’ll take as long as I need to make the best decision for myself.”