Cornerback A.J. Harris Navigating Penn State Football Depth Chart Leading Into Blue-White Game

True sophomore cornerback A.J. Harris transferred to Penn State football in January after just one season at Georiga. In his freshman season, he saw limited playing time and recorded just eight tackles in three games.

This spring, the former five-star recruit has received high praise from his coaches. James Franklin and cornerbacks coach Terry Smith said Tuesday after practice how Harris’ physicality and versatility have stood out this spring.

“He’s unusual as physical as he is as a corner,” Franklin said. “Because of how big he is and how physical he is, I think he could play multiple positions for us. I’m really excited to watch him.”

“He’s playing multiple positions on the back end. He’s an extremely talented young man, super smart, and he’s a great fit,” Smith said of Harris. “He’s a big body. Very skilled and talented. He fits right in and we’re going to expect a lot from him.”

Harris has the opportunity to showcase his abilities in the Blue-White Game this weekend with Kalen King, Daequan Hardy, and Johnny Dixon heading to the NFL Draft. However, this opportunity isn’t exclusive to Harris. Smith said despite losing three corners, the cornerback room is deeper than he originally anticipated.

Some players Smith highlighted were sophomores Zion Tracy and Elliot Washington II, whom he described as “two young guys with extreme talent,” redshirt sophomore Audavion Collins, whom Smith said has “made the biggest gain of anyone in the room,” and junior Cam Miller, who started in the Peach Bowl against Ole Miss.

“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team. He is the hardest worker in my room,” Smith said of Miller. “I haven’t had a leader in my room like Cam for several years, and I’m super happy he’s here, and he’s had a great spring so far.”

This is nothing new to Harris, as he faced a similar situation with the Bulldogs. As a freshman, he came into a loaded cornerback room headlined by Kamari Lassiter, a projected first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. Harris said that experience taught him how to navigate the depth chart this season.

“Consistency every single day,” Harris said. “It’s really challenging when you have so many people in that room. It takes you constantly being in the right place at the right time.”

So far this spring, Harris has focused on just that and with only one year of experience, he has looked to redshirt senior Jalen Kimber, who came in the same transfer class as Harris, as someone who can help him improve as a player.

“Kimber has played a lot of ball,” Harris said. “Throughout practice, I ask him, ‘What do you see right here?’ and he’ll be able to tell me exactly what he’s seeing and [how] I could get better. So, just having a vet in the room is a blessing.”

Smith has been impressed with the effort his corners have put forth this spring, especially with how they have embraced physicality. So much so that Smith called this spring one of the best in his 11 years with the program.

“[It’s] competitive every single day. Everyone wants to be the best,” Harris said. “Everybody wants to show that they’ve been working and show coach [Smith] why they should play, and we all do a good job raising each other’s level by doing so.”

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About the Author

Mitch Corcoran

Mitch is a junior broadcast journalism major from Johnstown, PA. He is a big Pittsburgh sports fan and in his free time he likes to listen to music, play video games, and rewatch old football games. He also loves Seinfeld, Star Wars, bucket hats, and Dua Lipa. If you want Justin Herbert propaganda or random sports content, follow him on Twitter/X @MitchCorc18 or email [email protected]

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