Harrison proving experts wrong

star staff

  The experts say it can't be done. A player from a small Carter County school has no chance of getting serious offers to play college football at the Division 1-A level.
  Those experts obviously don't know Jordy Harrison.
  An All-Watauga Conference lineman for the Happy Valley Warriors, Harrison enters his senior prep season with what he estimates between 150 and 200 letters from colleges interested in him suiting up at the next level.
  "It's a lot of schools and I like the attention," admitted Harrison. "I've proven a lot of people wrong that you can't come from a county school and go to Division 1. It's not there yet, but I hope to get there with a lot of hard work."
  Three schools head the list of places Harrison is interested in, where he mentioned pursuing a degree in sports management.
  "The University of Tennessee is a dream for any young football player in the state of Tennessee," said Harrison. "Auburn is another Southeastern Conference school I like. Charleston Southern, I've been talking to them. They aren't a 1-A big type SEC school, but I like what I've seen about them."
  Playing at a small high school, players usually see action on both sides of the ball. While Harrison at 6-4, 330 pounds, clogs up the middle nicely as a defensive tackle for Happy Valley, it is play of No. 51 as an offensive guard that has major universities waiting on a decision.
  Besides the obvious physical attributes and a strong academic record, Harrison has a charm that makes him a favorite among both teammates, classmates and recruiters. Armed with a smile he might break out at any time, Jordy is often seen hamming it up with his comrades. However, that light-hearted attitude in the locker room is turned off when kickoff begins with Harrison focusing squarely on the task at hand.
  He has applied that same intensity to a goal of playing at the next level. Flab has been turned into lean muscle through a tough training regime and an attention to diet.
  "The amount of work I put into it, it had to be immaculate," said Harrison. "It's been 5:30 in the morning, running my tail off. It's been spending a lot of time with my trainer Howard Dennis. He put me on a strict diet and I look ten times better than I did last year.
  "It's so much hard work. My squat was 315 (pounds) at the end of last year. Now it is 480-490. My bench press went up from 270 to 380. It's been leaps and gains, but it took a lot of sacrifices."
  Although he was expected to be one of the top players on the Warrior basketball team last season, Harrison set out the year to train for this football season. This senior year, he plans to return to the hardwood, but the gridiron will still be in the back of his mind.
  "Doing so many squats has helped my explosiveness," said Harrison. "Basketball should help me with a lot of foot speed and a lot of foot work. I appreciate all that coach (Charlie) Bayless and coach (Chuck) Babb have done for me with their work in basketball, just like coach (Greg) Hyder has in football."
  Head football coach Stan Ogg is proud of the dedication Harrison has shown over the past two seasons.
  "He's been with us four years and he's gotten bigger and better every year," said Ogg. "He's a good, vocal leader, who has worked very hard this offseason to become a better football player. He has trained very hard to become faster and stronger, and to have quicker feet."
   A decision by Ogg to change offenses from the option, which is run more at the high school level, to a college friendly I-formation also helped bring attention to Harrison's play.
  "Getting the experience of having the I back there and running the same type of plays and traps that colleges run has helped me," said Harrison. "It's a lot of work on timing with continuous reps in practice. We're pounding out the reps in practice everyday and it makes our play more exciting."
  Jordy has a close-knit family that has been very supportive of his athletic ventures. His father Sam, who owns Sam's Plumbing Supply in Elizabethton, and mother Debbie faithfully attend all the Happy Valley games. Older brother John at one time also played for the Warriors.
  Harrison fondly remembered a first experience of playing organized football. He and teammate Cane Cannon, now two bulky anchors of Happy Valley's offensive line, competed against each other for the quarterback position in flag football.
  Horsing around after Warrior media day with teammates, the love of the game is apparent. At this moment Harrison is not the imposing offensive lineman, but an affable figure playing quarterback, hurling passes to the team's receivers.
  A 25-yard tightly-wound spiral shows he still retains much of skills he learned in that first year of playing the sport. When receiver Chris Rutledge catches the ball, Harrison's face lights up with the same sparkle Brett Favre has after throwing a touchdown on Monday Night Football.
  Asked why football appeals so much to him Harrison looked around, powerfully motioning his arms toward his teammates.
  "It's just being out here (with these guys)," he replied. "There is just the thrill of being a part of something like this and getting to know everybody, the players and the coaches. There is nothing else that I've done and I've been a lot of places that can simulate the thrill of what it's like of running in front of your home crowd on a Friday night. I'm sure it's like that on Saturdays. There's no other feeling."