There is no secret how important the 2019 recruiting class is to Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee Volunteers. In multiple interviews this season, Pruitt referenced needing to get his own guys into the program before they could compete at the level they wanted. While Pruitt and Company recruited far better than anticipated during their brief time with the Vols in the 2018 cycle, the combination of a 4-8 season and the handicaps resulting from an odyssey of a coaching search clearly hampered them. The 2019 class represents Jeremy Pruitt’s first class at Tennessee in which he and his staff have had a full year to assemble the players they want. Due to the talent of these players and the emphasis Pruitt has placed on wanting to get his own players into the program, expect to see the young men from this class on the field early and often. Here's an idea of what to expect on the field through Spring Ball and into the fall. We continue our Player Profile series by looking at Roman Harrison out of Bainbridge, Georgia.
Roman Harrison came bursting onto the scene and became a full time starter in High School by just his sophomore season. As a sophomore, Roman was able to compile 46 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 2 pass break ups, and a fumble recovery. Roman continued to grow into his 6’2” 235 pound frame which drew scouts’ interest. Georgia Tech was the first school to extend an offer to him. By his senior season, Roman was able to lead his Bainbridge High School to a 5A State Championship win. Roman was able to seal the win in triple overtime with a blocked field goal. The athletic defender accumulated 193 tackles, 49 tackles for a loss, 20 sacks, 3 pass break ups, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries during his High School career at Bainbridge. In the initial industry rankings, he came in as the 807th best player in the country and a composite 3 star. After his incredible high school career, highlighted by a state championship and defensive player of the year honor, his hard work, and dedication, the scouts took notice. Roman climbed all the way up to being the 316th player in the country and gained his 4th star.
Roman attended a Vols' camp held back on June 11th, 2018 and was able to catch the eye of the coaching staff. The very next day, the Vols had extended Roman an offer to be part of the 2019 recruiting class. A few days after receiving an offer from the Vols, Michigan State had also reached out and extended an offer. About a month after receiving the Vols' offer, Roman decided to pull the trigger and commit. Roman was able to get on campus multiple times and even received an in home visit from Coach Pruitt and Kevin Sherrer. After he committed to the Vols, Roman's commitment never wavered, and he shut down his recruitment.
With the Vols losing their entire starting defensive line and struggling to generate any pressure on opposing quarterbacks during the 2018 season, Coach Pruitt is looking for his type of players that fit a certain mold. Roman fits that mold perfectly as an edge rusher. Roman is definitely a team first player that is used to winning Championships and will do what it takes to elevate the Vols to the next step. Due to his athletic ability, Roman played all along the defensive line during his High School Career. Coach Pruitt is probably looking at Roman as a stand-up pass rusher much like current Vol Darrell Taylor. Roman has a very similar build to Darrell who was listed as 6’4” 240 pounds. When looking at Roman, fans would think he was already in a College weight lifting program. Look for Roman to make an immediate impact during his freshman season, either on special teams or part of the defensive rotation.
Roman was kind enough to take some time with us and answer a few questions leading up to Signing Day:
Question #1: Michigan State, Georgia Tech and the Tennessee Volunteers were three of the top programs that offered you. What set Tennessee apart from the others that led you to commit to Tennessee?
Roman: The hospitality of the area, great coaching staff, and an awesome academic staff.
Question #2: What was it like on your official visit December 14th and has your family made the trip up to Knoxville with you? If so, what did they think about Knoxville and the Tennessee Volunteers program?
Roman: They were with me on the official visit. They seemed to be comfortable with the staff and how serious they took academics just as much as football.
Question #3: Now that you have signed your Letter of Intent, I know you have seen how much Vol Nation supports their players. What do you think about Tennessee’s fan base?
Roman: The fan base is incredible; they showed tremendous support all the way through my senior season.
Question #4: What goals would you like to accomplish on the field and off the field while you are attending UT? Possibly trying to chase down Derek Barnett’s sack record?
Roman: On the field, I want to help my team win games possibly championships I mean that's what I'm there for. Off the field, I want to make sure my life is set, whether I go to the league or have a nice paying job.
Question #5: Throughout this whole process, what coach have you had the closest relationship with?
Roman: Coach Stiff (Danny Stiff, Assistant Director of Player Personnel) was the first coach from the staff that I had contact with. He came across my film, loved how I played, and encouraged me to attend the camp where I got offered.
Question #6: What Major do you plan on getting while being enrolled at the University of Tennessee?
Roman: I intend to earn a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
Question #7: I am sure you have heard of the Vol for Life program for after football, did that effect your decision at all when choosing the Vols?
Roman: That was actually one of the last things I found out about so it wasn't much of a factor.
Question #8: Last fun one for the fans, what are the top 3 things you want Vol Nation to know about you that people probably don’t know?
Roman: I love Oreos which I know I’ll have to give up, I'm a state champion, and I love music as well…if it sounds good I'll listen no matter the genre.
Oreos or not, Tennessee has high hopes for Roman Harrison as he arrives in Knoxville. There are multiple openings in Tennessee's front seven, and the outside linebacker spot opposite of Darrell Taylor is one of the most prominent. The Vols are in desperate need of a complimentary pass rusher, and Harrison is an ideal fit for that role. Expect to see this young man get his chance early for Tennessee.