After a few days digesting what I heard from the Hogs at SEC Media Days, what really hit me in Hoover is the way De’Jon Harris has accepted his role as the main leader not only for the Hog Defense, but the entire team. The heart and soul of the 2019 Razorbacks. “I embrace it very well. I feel like I should be a leader being the Mike linebacker, one of the most experienced guys…feel like my leadership is important to take this team to where we need to go,” Harris said.
Set to graduate in December, Scoota has a chance to pace the Razorbacks in tackles for the third straight year. In early March, he was ruled out for the spring with a foot injury. He told me how the experience watching from the sideline made him understand, at a higher level, his passion for the game.
After a year when he made 118 stops and led the SEC in tackles, I still wasn’t sure where he would land on preseason All-SEC Lists given Arkansas’ position in the SEC. The media put him on the second team. It is what it is, a preseason list. Scoota may use it as motivation to prove he should be a first-team selection, but if you ask him, the team is his main priority. Harris has not been to a bowl game since his freshman year and this season, if the Hogs make the postseason, it would be Scoota’s first bowl playing when he’s getting ‘legitimate snaps,’ aside from special teams (Harris was part of the Hogs’ Belk Bowl appearance in 2016).
I also admire the way this guy faced some hot button issues head on at Media Days. The NCAA Transfer Portal for one. Whether you like it or not, and whether you think the NCAA is out of line granting transfers too many waivers for immediate eligibility, I like how Scoota didn’t give some ‘run of the mill answer.’ He simply said ‘he doesn’t like the Portal’ and directly responded by saying guys need to earn their spot once they get in a program. That debate can go on and on in so many directions. Point is, Scoota didn’t give some rehearsed, boring answer.
Harris was on a 7-6 team that should’ve won at least eight games in 2016. It has been brutal watching Arkansas Football each of the past two years in particular, but at least the Hogs have a go-to like Scoota in the middle defensively. He’ll have a lot on his plate continuing to make plays at a high level while getting others in the right place. But Harris, without a doubt, can handle it.