Star running back Kyle Harrison signs with Tarleton

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By Keith Sparks

With time winding down before Liberty Hill running back Kyle Harrison had to make a decision on his future, he had all but decided that his plan was to go to Texas State in San Marcos.

Texas State hadn’t offered him a scholarship, but he was considering the possibility of walking on to the football team. Fortunately, the Tarleton State coaching staff had other plans.

In the final hour, so to speak, Harrison received a full scholarship offer from Tarleton State University to eventually be their feature running back. Although he holds the single-season record for rushing yards by a Central Texas high school athlete, Harrison’s size, or lack thereof, had previously kept him from getting many scholarship offers.

Those that did want Harrison to play football as a walk on recommended he try out as a slot receiver. Harrison was open to the idea, but couldn’t be more excited that the Tarleton State coaching staff sees him as a running back.

“After I said (that I was going to walk on at Texas State), I got an invitation to Tarleton State’s campus to do a visit,” Harrison said. “I met the coaches, they showed me around, and I thought the campus was really cool. I loved it. The people seemed like a lot of fun. The head coach brought me in, talked about a scholarship offer, we thought about it and now I’m going to Tarleton.”

This late in the recruiting process, Harrison was losing hope that he’d ever play football again, but his highlight film caught the Tarleton State coaching staff’s attention – particularly his ability to avoid would-be tacklers.

“They were telling me how, on my highlight reel, they were really impressed how I never was tackled,” Harrison said. “They think I can run pretty hard and I won’t go down very easy, and I know that, too. I’m happy they have me at running back. It’s all I know. It’s all I’ve done my whole life, so I’m really excited to run the ball again.”

Harrison’s potential role as starting running back has one stipulation – that he’s able to put on some weight over the next couple years in order to handle the constant physicality of being a feature running back at the college level.

“We thought I was going to be a slot receiver, but he told me that he wants to put some weight on me, get me in the weight room, then let me run the rock and let me be a running back,” Harrison said. “I’m really excited to do that in a different offense.”

From the time he took the field in elementary school, Harrison has known nothing but the Panthers’ Slot-T offense. At Tarleton, he’ll be forced to adapt to a more traditional offense, which he doesn’t think should be an issue.

“I mean, I’m pretty coachable, so I should be able to learn it pretty quick,” Harrison said. “I watch the NFL, I watch college football, so I kind of see it. I kind of have an idea of what’s going to happen. It’s going to be different being in a shotgun and in a two-point stance, but I’m excited to be a real running back as they would say nowadays.”

Harrison said he anticipates being redshirted as a freshman, giving him the opportunity to focus on learning a new offense and building mass in the weight room before being thrown in the fire.

“I think freshmen get redshirted and they put some weight on us, keep us in the weight room, keep us on a meal plan,” Harrison said. “I’m ready to gain some weight, get a little bigger, a little faster, and by my sophomore year, junior year I’ll be out there.”

Tarleton has a had a successful football program as of late, making it all the way to the National Championship before falling short of a title last season. With Harrison in the backfield, though, he believes he can put them over the top.

“I’m hoping by the time I’m up there running the ball, we can get a ring,” Harrison said.

Harrison was recently able to take his first campus visit, along with his parents, where he was able to tour the dorm rooms and student center, watch Tarleton highlight film, eat in the cafeteria, and meet a few of his future teammates and coaches.

According to Harrison, the Tarleton coaching staff is similar to Liberty Hill’s in that they prioritize relationships with players and are hyper-focused in the weight room, which made Harrison a fan immediately.

“They’re the type to get on to you, but they’re doing it for the team,” Harrison said. “It seems like they build good relationships with their players, and they kind of remind me of Liberty Hill coaches in a way, because they’re real tough on the weight room. That’s awesome, because I love the weight room. They seem like mellow guys, but when it comes to football, it’s business, and that’s what I’m thinking, too.”

This late in the process, Harrison said his parents were starting to lose hope, as well, and are just as excited as he is that he has another opportunity to lace up his cleats.

“This was late, so they didn’t think I was going to go play football again,” Harrison said. “Now that I got a scholarship and get to go play football again, it’s like a dream of theirs and a dream of mine. We’re all really excited that I get to keep playing and I don’t have to hang them up early.”

Upon his arrival at Tarleton, Harrison will start his studies as a communications major. He’ll join LHHS graduate and TSU basketball player Kandyn Faurie, as well as former Panther track teammate Brandon McKissick, which should make the transition more enjoyable.

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