We all know the saying by now: the only certainties in this world are death, taxes and Phil Parker finding an under the radar defensive back to turn into an All-American. Or something like that. Ol’ Phil has managed to find himself an unheralded, under-recruited guy in nearly every class and take the raw materials to build a big time contributor. The list is lengthy, including recent All-Americans Desmond King and Josh Jackson, but also dates back to the likes of Bob Sanders, Charles Godfrey, Bradley Fletcher, Amari Spivey, Tyler Sash, Micah Hyde and on and on.
This year, the Hawkeyes used the recent success to reel in a pair of talented defensive backs in Sebastian Castro of Illinois and Dane Belton of Florida. But with the late signing period fast approaching and available scholarships, head coach Kirk Ferentz has again put his faith in defensive coordinator and defensive back guru Phil Parker to find a diamond in the rough.
Enter Montini Catholic corner Jermari Harris. He’s a guy the Hawkeyes have been following for while and he’s visited a few times before, but they held off on offering until this week when they convinced Harris to cancel his visit to Northern Illinois to head to Iowa City. Now he’s ready to be a Hawkeye.
100% C O M M I T T E D TO... pic.twitter.com/huSrN249sJ— Jermari Harris✨ (@Jermariharris25) February 4, 2019
Like so many Hawkeye greats before him, Harris was lightly recruited and rated as a 2-star by Rivals (247 Sports gives him a third star, but also lists him as a safety). It’s not hard to envision Harris developing like so many of those former Parker projects.
He comes to Iowa with a good frame. Rivals has him at 6’1” while 247 Sports puts him at 6’2”. Either is plenty tall for a corner, especially given the instincts Harris shows on film. Watching him, it’s easy to flash back to former Hawkeye Desmond King. He shows similar instincts in jumping underneath routes and cutting off receivers.
Those instincts led to 8 picks as a senior, as well as 5 passes broken up. But Harris isn’t just a great defender in the passing game, he also shows a willingness and ability to step up in run support and sniff out plays (there’s a great clip of his tackling ability at the 3:15 mark of his video below). He finished with 72 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles as well.
This isn’t the first time the Hawkeyes have looked to Montini Catholic. The Lombard, Illinois high school was home to former Iowa defensive tackle and current Minnesota Viking Jaleel Johnson. Harris played primarily corner for Montini, but showed the versatility to line up at safety on occasion and has said Iowa likes that versatility and will see where he fits best once on campus.
Harris chose the Hawkeyes over offers from Northern Illinois, Ball State, North Dakota State, Indiana State, Northern Iowa, Southern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, South Dakota, and South Dakota State.
Welcome aboard Jermari Harris!