DENHAM SPRINGS – Among the many attributes that trumpet a bright future for Denham Springs offensive lineman Alex Harris, his third-year coach offered the most telling insight.
“He just turned 17,” said Denham Springs coach Bill Conides, beaming about his 6-foot-5, 295-pound left tackle, who’s committed to Brown University.
It’s a future that has Harris equally excited, having already secured his commitment with Brown where his older brother Zachary is already a sophomore offensive guard at the Providence, R.I. school.
Should everything go as planned Harris expects to sign with the Bears during the NCAA’s early signing period in December, thus assuring his football career will continue, while more importantly continuing his academic pursuits at one of the nation’s most prestigious Ivy League schools.
“Obviously you’re getting a real good education,” Harris said of the virtues of selecting Brown. “Outside of that you make a lot of connections to people that can help you in later life. All these people are also pretty smart and going somewhere in all facets of life. There are a lot of successful people that come from those (Ivy League) schools.
“Compared to students there, a lot that come from prep schools after high school, they dedicate years and years to get into these schools,” Harris said. “For someone from here, that goes to public schools like everyone else and excels to that level is actually kind of extraordinary.”
Harris – armed with a 4.0-plus grade point average and 30 ACT – hopes to be the next great success story, preferably in the field of engineering.
Like his brother before him, Harris’ pursuits in the classroom have defined him more than that of a player on a football field able to routinely clear running lanes by moving defensive lineman out of the way against their will.
Harris established himself as a clear, high academic achiever by making straight-A’s from 1-8th grades before entering Denham Springs High School where he received his first B in Civics followed a year later with another B in Electrical 1.
“Academics as well as excellence on the field have always been an achievement for me to get to,” Harris said. “My parents (Brad and Luwana Harris) had a big hand in that. You go from school to football to homework. For the most part I’ve been pretty organized in balancing football and academics.”
Harris said he’s been most challenged by Physics – one of his three Advanced Placement classes this year – and maintains a soft spot for History and Social Studies.
“That’s just something I’ve always enjoyed,” he said.
Football’s also played a significant part in Harris’ identity, gifted with size, intellect and passion, he literally grew up on the offensive line.
“Whenever you’re a young kid and you talk about going throw the football, no one expects you to play a line position,” he said. “They think of throwing the ball, catching it or making tackles. It’s not a glorified position, but when you get down to it, it’s an important position.”
Harris represents the strength of this year’s Denham Springs football team where the Yellow Jackets returned four offensive linemen.
As a first-year starter in 2018, Harris was named first team All-Parish and second team All-District 4-5A honors after helping DSHS’ offense to 33 points and nearly 400 yards a game.
“Last year he was kind of a really big guy,” Conides said. “Now he’s a big guy that can play offensive line at a very high level. He’s got the physicality, technique and knowing what to do and physically being able to do it.”
Harris is back at his customary left tackle position this season for an offensive unit that’s gradually shown signs of improvement, particularly in the running game where the Yellow Jackets have rushed for more than 200 yards the past two games.
However, with football, Harris is just getting started.
Once the football season concludes Harris will move straight into powerlifting where he finished seventh at the Division I state meet (1,395 pounds lifted) in the super heavyweight class followed in the spring by track and field.
Moreover, he’s participated in two extracurricular clubs at Denham Springs, adding further credence to Harris’ deserved reputation as a student-athlete.
“There’s a sense of pride to be able to do it, that I could be able to balance football and a social life,” Harris said. “To be able to communicate and have friendships that can last into adulthood, I take pride in being able balance all of these things.”