Among all of South Carolina’s 16 commitments, Ridgeland (Ga.) standout Mason Harris has been one of the most productive this season.
Harris has dominated en route to Ridgeland’s 4-1 start. In Friday’s win over Dalton (Ga.), a program Ridgeland hadn’t beaten in two decades, the 6-foot-4, 227-pounder had nine tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Sound like an amazing night? It’s become the routine.
“He’s a guy that just makes plays,” Ridgeland coach Mike Mariakis said. “ His motor is running all the time. He’s just that guy that when you need a big play, he always seems to make it.
“I think he’s going to fit in anywhere just fine. He’s a big, strong athletic football player who can do a lot of things for a lot of people. I know for a fact he’s going to be very productive with his hand on the ground as a pass rusher.”
Harris does a little bit of everything for Ridgeland. He’s a dominant – at times unblockable – defensive end, but he’s athletic enough to play in space, so he’s spending 10-15 snaps a game at linebacker. He also plays offensive tackle.
But Harris is likely to end up at defensive end in Columbia, especially after his long, lean body adds 20 to 30 pounds. Even after putting on that kind of bulk, he doesn’t figure to lose too much speed.
He was electronically timed in the high-4.4s at a Nike Sparq combine this offseason, numbers that must excite USC’s coaching staff. If Harris plays defensive end, his speed could allow USC to utilize zone blitzes and drop him into coverage.
“I think I’ll fit in at defensive end as a pass rusher,” Harris said. “Obviously right now I don’t weigh enough to stop the run, but as far as pass rushing, I think I’ll be good at that early.”
Harris believes his speed and his ability to use his hands effectively are his best traits. Mariakis believes the raw talent is there, but he thinks Harris will grow significantly as a player once he’s focusing on one sport and getting stronger.
The scouting services haven’t seen that potential. He has an average position ranking of 89th by ESPN, Rivals and Scout. That may make him one of the more underrated prospects on USC’s board.
“I think he’s a guy that will put 20 pounds on very easily and be able to keep his speed and quickness,” Mariakis said. “Then he’ll just be a monster.”