His father Sean Harris had 32.5 tackles for loss, including 14.5 sacks, in his career for Arizona and its famed “Desert Swarm” defense.
Jalen Harris wants similar numbers, at least in sacks, in one season as a third-year sophomore rush end for the Wildcats.
“I definitely want to be double-digits,” Jalen said earlier this week when asked about his ideal sack total this season. “That’s the goal. I have to make sure I’m working and doing everything right this summer and the rest of spring to get there.”
In Saturday’s Spring Game at Arizona Stadium, Jalen was almost halfway to at least 10 sacks with an unofficial mark of four.
He likely had more because touching the quarterback before the release of the ball was a sack and it appeared he did that quite often, including against Khalil Tate when Tate connected on an 83-yard TD pass to Devaughn Cooper on the second play of the game.
“His improvement this offseason, I think that was evident tonight as a pass rusher,” said Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin, who noted that Jalen dropped 10 pounds recently because of an illness. “He made plays chasing the ball up and down the field. If he continues to get stronger and stay above in the 245 to 250 (pound) range, he’s got a really, really bright future ahead for him and us.
“He brings an edge pressure with length (6-foot-4 and 242 pounds) and he showed today playing the run from sideline to sideline, there was a couple of times we just couldn’t block him.”
Kevin Sumlin talks about the promising, dominating spring performance of rush end Jalen Harris, son of Desert Swarm linebacker Sean Harris. Jalen had at least two sacks today and many QB hurries. pic.twitter.com/rHBqq9SyXG
Sean Harris and wife Cha-Ron, a women’s hoops standout for Arizona from 1996-98, could not attend the Spring Game because they were in California watching their highly-touted son Jason Harris play in an AAU basketball tournament.
Jason is being recruited by Sumlin, but he wants to attend a school that will allow him to play football and basketball. He has a basketball scholarship offer from national championship runner-up Texas Tech, and ASU has also shown interest in him in both sports.
Jason, a defensive end in football who is 6-7 and 220 pounds at Gilbert Higley High School, also holds football scholarship offers from Alabama, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma and USC, to name a few.
From talking to people who know the family, a show of interest from Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller could spark Jason toward favoring the Wildcats. As of now, the interest has primarily been from Sumlin and his staff.
For now, Jalen Harris will be a player that excels for Arizona. Two of his sacks were on consecutive plays against freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell, reminding those in attendance at Arizona Stadium of his father.
Sean Harris, an inside linebacker, was physically imposing at 6-3 and 240 pounds. He also was nimble enough to shed blocks and be effective dropping into coverage. He intercepted five passes and broke up 17. He ranks sixth on Arizona’s career list with 248 unassisted tackles.
“I marveled at his physical capabilities,” former Arizona coach Dick Tomey told the Tucson Citizen. “He was not someone who was a five-star prospect or a four-star prospect or any of those things (at Tucson High School). He was a little bit under the radar, but nobody had more physical capability than he did.”
Jalen had three sacks for Arizona last year, which almost led the team. Colin Schooler and J.B. Brown each had a team-best 3.5 sacks.
If Jalen reaches his goal for double-digit sacks, he would join only Scooby Wright (14 in 2014) to reach that mark in the last eight years. It has happened only three times in the last 20 years for Arizona. Ricky Elmore had 10.5 sacks in 2009 and 11 in 2010.
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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.