By Jonathan Hull
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Darron Harris is one of two players at the 77th annual Oil Bowl who has signed to play at a Division I college. But that doesn’t mean he’s not competing with something to prove this week.
Harris was a standout defensive end for Arlington High the past two seasons and a first-team defensive end on the 3-5A all-district team as a senior. He signed with Sam Houston State and reports to the Bearkats on July 1.
Harris is the lone Division I signee on the West Texas squad. The only other Division I player at the Oil Bowl is East Texas outside linebacker Israel Acuay, of Wylie. Acuay has signed with Incarnate Word, which will be playing its first full season in FCS this fall.
For Harris, the Oil Bowl is an opportunity to put his skill set on display, while also allowing him a chance to get some last-minute game action to better prepare him for SHSU.
“I just came here to get myself ready for college,” Harris said. “I’m just trying to get my body trained up. This is the time for me to work on my skills, work on my technique, get better and better. I’m just wanting to see how I stand up against these guys.”
Harris was a two-year letterman at Arlington High and personally feels he had a stronger junior year than senior season, although he was just a second-team all-district selection as a junior.
Part of that is because Harris recording nine sacks as a junior and just four as a senior, although extra attention from opposing offensive lines had something to do with that drop. He also played in fewer games as a senior after the Colts failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
He believes his speed is his greatest quality, and at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, it’s something he relies on heavily. Harris expects to remain a defensive end at Sam Houston State and to add weight to his frame. He’s hoping to add at least 10 more pounds before reporting to the Bearkats and expects to have a chance to compete for playing time as a freshman.
Harris knows he might end up having a target on his back this week with opposing offensive linemen wanting to show how they match up with a future Division I player. That’s fine with him.
“I’ve got more weight on my shoulders with me being D-I,” Harris said. “People are looking at me and saying, ‘OK, let’s see what you got. You’re going D-I, so you better be good.’ I’m going to go out there and prove myself. … I’m going D-I for a reason. I’m going D-I because of my timing, my speed, my skills. I’m going to show them. They’re going to see.”
Harrold’s Matt Templeton is the rare six-man player making an appearance in the Oil Bowl. He is spending the week getting adjusted to the 11-man game and to more athletic players than he faced at the six-man level.
“Today I had my first 11-man practice. I think I’ll be ready for it, but I’m still learning,” Templeton said Tuesday. “I’m trying to take in as much as I possibly can.”
Templeton’s twin sister, Madison, will be one of the contestants for Oil Bowl queen this week. Their mother Kenya (Krebs) Templeton was an Oil Bowl queen in the late 1980s.
Templeton has signed to play at Wayland Baptist in Plainview.
Midwestern State has four signees who will play in the Oil Bowl — Rider receiver Davon Allison, Iowa Park linebacker Dakota Schweiger, Ennis running back Nicholas Gabriel and Sachse offensive lineman Austin Roland.
Both teams are practicing twice again at Memorial Stadium on Thursday. West Texas will practice 9:45-11 a.m. and 4-5:30 p.m., while East Texas works out 8:30-9:45 a.m. and 2:30-4 p.m.