Last month it was South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier who said that Jadeveon Clowney could fill a role next year similar to former Gamecock Eric Norwood.
But Clowney will likely spend more time in a three-point stance than Norwood, whose pass-rushing skills were used from a variety of positions. Though he might not have the instant impact that Clowney does, another USC signee could develop into the next Norwood.
In fact, there are a lot of similarities between Norwood and Ridgeland (Ga.) defensive end/outside linebacker Mason Harris. Both are lower-profile recruits from the Peach State, both have proven to be sack artists and both have high motors that never seem to slow down.
Harris would like to develop into that type of player, and USC’s coaches have told him they think he’s the perfect fit for it. First, he’ll need to look the part. That’s why he’s spending much of the spring focusing on adding bulk to his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. If he’s unable to gain at least 20-plus pounds, he figures to redshirt in 2011.
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Harris played defensive end and linebacker in high school, showing the versatility to capably handle the responsibilities of both positions. Beyond the comparisons to Norwood, some believe Harris has similar skills to John Abraham.
“It all depends on how much weight I put on,” said Harris, who considered Miami late in the recruiting process but stuck with a prior commitment to the Gamecocks. “[The coaches] want me to play defensive end on third downs. It all depends on if I get up to 245 or 250. We’ll see what my weight does, but I think I’ll play linebacker at first.”
Harris has run as fast as 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and consistently runs in the 4.5s.
After finishing up with basketball season late last month, Harris immediately started his workout regimen provided by USC’s strength and conditioning staff. He’s hoping be at 230 pounds or more by the time he enrolls in school this summer.
“I think I’ll play and I hope I’ll play,” Harris said of his status for 2011. “If I don’t, I’m fine with being redshirted. That gives me an extra year to get bigger and stronger, but I’m looking to play.”