The University of Miami running back Cam’ron Harris is enjoying a breakout season in a Hurricanes offense that has become one of the most explosive in the nation. Harris has the opportunity to enhance his reputation and NFL Draft stock further when the Hurricanes face the Clemson Tigers in the marquee matchup of this coming weekend’s college football slate.
Rhett Lashlee has got the Miami offense humming right now. After a turgid 2019 season that saw the Hurricanes finish ranked 90th in points per game, they’ve exploded out of the gate in the 2020 season, racking up an incredible 43.3 points per game through three games.
Inevitably the explosion has seen praise heaped at the door of quarterback D’Eriq King. The Houston transfer and his favorite target, tight end Brevin Jordan, have seen a bump in their NFL Draft stock, but it is running back Harris whose stock is set to soar from this season.
Cam’ron Harris near the top of the running back rankings
The junior Hurricanes running back leads the ACC in rushing touchdowns, having found the end zone five times in three games. With 311 rushing yards, he sits just outside the top 10 rushers in the nation. Harris is currently rushing at 8.2 yards per carry, ranking eighth in the country.
Harris’ breakout season
Through three games, Harris has two 100+ rushing yard games. Before this season, he had just one in two seasons. If his production continues at this pace, Harris will have surpassed his previous season-high rushing yards total by the season’s halfway point.
It is the epitome of a breakout season.
That is not to say that Harris hasn’t been a productive running back before. The former four-star recruit out of Carol City High School was the seventh-ranked running back in the 2018 recruiting class as per 247 Sports, after a high school career that saw him rack up over 1300 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.
Harris was recruited heavily by schools across the country, including USC, UNC, and Wisconsin. A brief study of Harris’ high school tape shows exactly why. Harris showed noticeable strength and speed, combined with elusiveness, making it difficult to bring him down in the open field.
The Florida native opted to stay close to home and committed to Miami after a flirtation with Oregon State in the fall of 2016. In his freshman season, he saw limited action but flashed signs of his skillset with that opportunity. Harris put up 77 rushing yards against Virginia Tech the week after his first career college rushing touchdown against Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets would feel the force of Harris again in 2019 as the Hurricanes running back began to impose himself on the ACC. His 136 rushing yards were a bright spot in a Miami defeat and remain his single-game career-high. They would also represent a sizeable chunk of his total season yardage as Harris finished his sophomore campaign with 576 yards and five touchdowns.
Speed and strength define his skillset
So far in 2020, Harris has looked like one of the most dangerous running backs in the nation. What makes him so entertaining to watch, and how can that skillset increase his NFL draft stock?
Firstly, speed. Harris is genuinely fast.
On a fourth and one play against UAB, Harris found a gap at the line of scrimmage, and once he was through, he put the burners on and was gone for a touchdown. He demonstrated that speed again against Louisville with a 75-yard touchdown that put the game to bed.
His speed has impressed coaches and teammates alike.
Miami Quarterback D’Eriq King described Harris as a “freak” in an interview with Sirius XM. Lashlee told the Miami Herald, “He’s faster than I thought he was, more explosive than what I thought he was.”
Head coach Manny Diaz also told the Herald, “Cam’s work in the weight room has allowed him to maintain his speed through the course of a long run. He hit 23mph on our GPS.”
His work in the weight room will have also benefited another aspect of his game.
Harris’ strength is evident on the field in a multitude of ways. He isn’t afraid to lower his shoulder and use his strength and 210-pound frame to grind out extra yardage. He showed several examples of this in the season opener against UAB, including using his strength as a goal-line threat to find the end zone and make the score 31-14.
Harris also uses his strength in a facet of his game that will help his NFL Draft stock. If you can’t pass protect as a running back in the NFL, you have limited use, and Harris has demonstrated some nice pass protection snaps, particularly against UAB.
Room for improvement, an opportunity for national recognition
Like all players, there is room for improvement, and for Harris, it is with consistency. After opening up with two 100+ yard games this season, he struggled to 43 yards at 3.6 yards per carry against Florida State. In 2019, there was a game with less than three yards per carry for every game with over five yards per carry.
Harris will lead the Hurricanes running back room that contains impressive freshman Jaylan Knighton and Don Chaney against Clemson on Saturday night. It will be the biggest test of the season for Miami and Harris. The Tigers have one of the stingiest rushing defenses in the nation, allowing just 2.25 yards per carry and an average of 90 yards per game allowed on the ground.
An impressive performance on the same field as Travis Etienne, one of the best running backs in the country, on the national stage in primetime, will only see Harris’ NFL Draft stock climb even higher.