Alabama in the Pros

Jaguars’ veteran defensive back said he “loves” Ronnie Harrison’s game

Marvin Gentry - USA TODAY Sports

Many felt like he should have been selected in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft, but Ronnie Harrison is making an impact as a third-round pick. He was chosen in the third round by the Jacksonville Jaguars and in his return home to Florida, one veteran defensive back said all Harrison does is “make plays.”

He looks to silence his critics as a rookie this fall. 

“I love Ronnie Harrison’s game,” Jaguars’ safety Tashaun Gipson told reporters in an article per Mike Kaye of First Coast News. “He is one of those guys who truly can play both positions. I guess the knock on him coming out was that he was a box safety and what not, who can’t cover. I truly believe that he is a unique player, and I think that somehow, someway Ronnie is going to be on the field. He is a good young player.” 

During his three seasons at the University of Alabama (2015-17), Harrison excelled as a box safety with exceptional ball skills. He was one of Nick Saban’s most secure tacklers, totaling 176 career stops – including sharing the team lead with 74 tackles in 2017. He also accounted for 17 pass breakups, seven interceptions and seven tackles for loss. The 6-foot-2, 207-pound enforcer has the physicality to take on running backs and tight ends, while possessing the arm length to close on receivers and breakup passes.

Despite being overshadowed by an All-American in Minkah Fitzpatrick – both came in 2015 to Alabama – Harrison was a very instinctive player. 

“He understands football, and that is one of the things that you look at,” Gipson said. “He knows how to play the game of football, and I don’t know if you want to give Nick Saban all that credit. He is just genetically gifted. I am excited to have young guys like that that give us depth. It is an exciting thing like that to be able to coach young guys up. He is quiet, he doesn’t talk much, but when he goes out there he plays, and all he does is make plays.” 

With guys like Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye and Barry Church joining Gipson in the secondary, adding Harrison makes Jacksonville’s defense more lethal. After making the playoffs last season for the first time since 2007 and winning the division for the first time since 1999 (AFC Central), the Jaguars anticipate making a Super Bowl run and Harrison could play a critical role. 

Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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