The list of attributes that define the ideal running back are well known — speed, power, vision, and patience all make the list. Watch any of Isaiah Harris’s highlights, and you’ll see everything you need.
Harris is a senior at Millard South High. He’s been wildly productive in three seasons as a starter. His career rushing numbers are superb — more than 3,000 yards rushing, 45 touchdowns, and a per-carry average of around eight yards.
This season, he’s torched defenses to the tune of 13.5 yards per carry.
“He’s fast. He’s really, really fast,” said Millard South head coach Andy Means. “Anytime he has the ball, we can score.” The proof? Last spring, Harris won the Metro Conference track meet with a personal-best 10.90-second 100-meter dash.
But Harris is far from the traditional scat back type. He strong, too. Harris put in the work in the offseason, setting high goals for himself in the weight room. His bench press is currently listed at 315 pounds and he’s squatting north of 400.
“Coming into this season I just wanted to get a lot stronger,” Harris said. “You’re just at a completely different level when you’re stronger and faster.” And he’s clearly been on that different level. Running over defenders almost looks as easy as running past them now, as he’s put on close to 30 pounds since his first start as a sophomore.
Harris’s vision is unquestionable. Watch him on film and see if he misses a cutback lane or a play-side hole. It’s hard to find. His uncanny ability to get to places where defenders aren’t almost defies logic. Plays that look like a rugby scrum often result in Harris popping out the back side, running past defenders for a score.
But vision on the field isn’t Harris’s only strong suit. His vision of team-first football is pretty good, too.
“I’m more satisfied than last year because I feel like I’m doing more for the team than just for myself,” Harris said. “I have a minimum amount of carries but a lot of yards.” He believes that eating up less of the carries allows younger players to get in the game and build their own experience levels.
Averaging 13+ yards per carry has a way of creating blowouts. Millard South has scored 42 or more points in five of their six wins this season.
So Harris must have collegiate recruiters knocking down his door, right? A running back with speed, power, and vision makes for a good prospect, or so it would seem. But the scholarship offers, at least from the higher-level schools just haven’t materialized.
“We can’t really figure it out,” said Means. “From what they tell me, his height hurts him.” Means says he thinks some recruiters are worried that the 5’8’’ Harris won’t be able to take the pounding that comes with being a college running back.
But height? Some of the best backs in the history of the game were under 6’ tall. The whole issue hasn’t been clear, least of all to Harris.
“My junior year, I thought this has to be the year they were going to start looking at me. Nothing really happened,” Harris said. “I was like, maybe they just look at seniors? Now, I’m a senior. I’m like, well, now what?”
Harris does have offers, mostly from junior colleges and NAIA schools. He’s not really considering any of them seriously. He explains that the schools are either too far away to make sense or don’t offer an academic major that he’d want to take.
He’s been talking to coaches from North Dakota and South Dakota State, either of which would jump immediately to the top of his list if they offered a scholarship. So far, neither has.
— Gary Hiatt (@dirty_burger67) October 7, 2019
Which means, of course, that Harris will have to exhibit that fourth attribute that all great backs possess — patience. He knows he’s got to keep performing at the same high level he has for the last two-plus seasons.
“I’m a very patient guy,” Harris said. “My dad always tells me, if you’re patient, things will come.There’s not much I can do, except for just keep playing ball.”
Be sure to check out Isaiah and his Millard South teammates this Friday night as they go head-to-head with Creighton Prep on GameTime at 7pm and streaming LIVE on Yurview.com.