Allen giving Harris a 2nd chance

The winding, circuitous football career of Juan Harris took another turn on Wednesday.

He decided to become a Hoosier. Again.

Harris, a 6-foot-3, 350-pound defensive tackle, signed with Indiana as a junior college transfer on the first day of the early signing period, rejoining an IU program he left mere months earlier.

It’s a mutually-beneficial match for all involved. Indiana is giving Harris a second chance to become an impact player at the Big Ten level, while also addressing an area of need in the middle of its defensive line.

Now, it’s up to Harris to make good on the opportunity.

“We’ve given him a second chance here,” IU coach Tom Allen said. “He and I have spent a lot of time talking about that, and we’re going to do everything we can to be able to get him the resources to be successful. I feel like he has a skill set, has some things that can help this program. And I believe that we have some things that we can do here to help him. So it’s kind of a dual benefit.”

Wednesday marked the third time Harris has committed to Indiana — and his sixth commitment overall.

The Chicago product committed — and decommitted — to Iowa three times while in high school, before making his first verbal pledge to IU in July 2016. Harris backed off that commitment less than three months later, then committed to Indiana again in November of that year. He later signed and enrolled for the 2017 spring semester in Bloomington.

Harris played in the first three games of the 2017 season before a season-ending injury led him to take a medical redshirt. In a tweet announcing his departure from the IU football program in April, Harris thanked Allen and defensive line coach Mark Hagen for their guidance before saying, ‘I must go on.”

At Independence Community College in Independence, Kan., Harris played in nine games this fall. He posted 38 total tackles, including 4.5 for loss.

“Sometimes when you have a chance to go to the environment that he went to when he left here, it was a wake-up call in a lot of ways to realize what you have,” Allen said. “Then when you choose to go somewhere else and you don’t have those things anymore, and you realize how blessed you really were and the opportunities you had, I think it’s called growing up.”

Harris, a former four-star recruit, has a chance to dearly help Indiana this fall. The Hoosiers lost three seniors — Mike Barwick, Ja’merez Bowen and Kayton Samuels — at nose tackle and need plug-and-play assistance.

Indiana believes Harris can be part of the solution.

“He brings instant stability to the nose position where we lost three young men that played quite a big role for us, and really played all the snaps inside,” Hagen said. “Not to get into specifics, but Juan left us, he’s back home now and it’s great to have him back.”

Harris returned to Bloomington on an official visit earlier this month, reconnecting with the program before a decision was made.

Now, he’s a Hoosier again — and Allen hopes he makes the most of a second chance.

“(I) just know his upbringing and the things that he’s been through,” Allen said. “… To me it’s about really challenging young men to grow and to develop and become who I believe they were created to be. So that’s on him to come back here and prove that I was right in giving him a second chance.”

7 comments

  1. No doubt Allen was impactful here but I believe this to be Hagen’s biggest victory coaching at IU. As with all FB players things can happen but this kid is just what’s needed to start building a stout DL that can support the back 7. Hope his wrist injury is in the rearview mirror and he’s wearing his head right. He’s got the width and height for the middle of any teams DL. If he’s got the quicks he very well could earn ALL B1G. I think things just got better for the D in Bloomington.

    1. Pretty much all about football for Jones, who has seen a lot of big boys get involved this fall/winter — Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Texas and USC to name just a few. Doesn’t sound like IU is really even in the picture anymore, although still trying.

      1. Thanks JP. Understood this was only his 2nd season of any kind of organized FB. But has played lots of round ball. I kind of figure this is the type of player IU should have been hound dogging even earlier than they did considering his HS, athleticism and size. Good for him and good for Indiana HS FB.

  2. Beyond his ability to contribute to IU Football, I just want this young man to be O.K. and to make the best out of the opportunity that his size and athletic ability has provided him. I’m pulling for him, both on and off the field and hope he allows his coaches, his teammates and The Hoosier Nation to embrace him and help him create a great success story for himself. I’ll say this, T.A. is probably the best possible head coach for creating the conditions that will allow this young man to work through his issues and make the most out of this second chance.

  3. I hope Harris comes in and shows he has learned and plays B1G football. IU needs him on the DL to go with athletic DL players that are young. If Harris has grown up it shows how athletics helps kids overcome the hurdles in their life. It is one of the big reasons I loved coaching football and helping kids.

    IU will be young up front on defense but with Head, Stalling, and Harris the have a good start on the DL. I bet Sio will play in 2019 along with a couple of the others.

  4. I love second chances….I was frequently saddened by how many in the Hoosier fan base bought into the vicious narrative to not give those who played for Kelvin Sampson, if not a second chance, an ounce of compassion.
    Sampson had a kid on his roster who had spent time in Chicago living out of a car….It may have been a ‘mistake’ to have recruited such a high risk individual to a place like Indiana Basketball in tumultuous times, but it’s a mistake in dignity to cast dark criticisms of failure and blanket judgments in an attempt to sell one’s own status as a coach, program or symbol of faith.

    I’m glad so many have now found compassion and a love of second chances….or third chances….or fourth chances. Much like the cynical view I frequently have of those selling doctrines of faith(or quotes from ‘Good Books’), the history of words spoken on the subject of compassion leaves me as cynical.

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