By Liam Beatus
As a true freshman, the expectations were not set too high for Lorenzo Harrison. Entering the season, he was still behind incumbent backs Ty Johnson, Kenneth Goins Jr. and Wes Brown, but through seven weeks of the season it is the true freshman from Hyattsville who leads the team in carries (88), and rushing touchdowns (5) and is second in rushing yards (633).
“He’s been tremendous,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “I think numbers don’t even really tell the story about the type of effort he’s playing with, the competitiveness he’s playing with.”
At 5-foot-9, Harrison is listed as the team’s smallest back, but do not let his size deceive you; he is one of the toughest backs to bring down in the Big Ten. Through the first six weeks, Harrison broke a conference-leading 16 tackles, according to Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating statistic. https://twitter.com/TerpsWatch/status/789984161213870080
Against Michigan State, Harrison rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown, averaging over six yards per carry. It’s not just his rushing stats that impress the coaches, though.
“When you start to describe how I want our program to be, just start checking all the boxes right there with that guy,” Durkin said. “He plays really hard.”
The DeMatha product is a part of the two-headed rushing attack that has kept Maryland afloat with a 5-5 record. Harrison and sophomore Ty Johnson have more than 1,200 combined rushing yards. Maryland as an offense ranks third in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game, only behind Michigan and Ohio State, who are both ranked in the top 10 nationally.
“[He’s] an incredible talent,” senior offensive lineman Michael Dunn said. “I have only seen a few guys do some of the moves he’s done. He’s extremely athletic.”
In addition to using Harrison primarily on offense, Durkin and the coaching staff use him on special teams, but not as a returner. Instead, Durkin puts his star back on the line to block punts. Harrison was successful in his collegiate debut. The ball was scooped up by senior teammate Trey Edmunds who ran for a 13-yard touchdown in a 52-13 win over Howard.
“You see some of those effort plays … he’s unbelievable,” Durkin said. “That’s something we show to the team, because there were other guys on that play that weren’t playing with the same effort the whole time. That’s what that guy does every game.”
Harrison’s freshman campaign was tainted when he was suspended indefinitely within an hour of the Ohio State game. Harrison, DJ Turner and Antoine Brooks were all suspended for breaking athletic code of conduct. Durkin did not comment on why the three freshmen were suspended following the 62-3 loss.
Harrison is just 57 yards behind LaMont Jordan’s school record for rushing yards by a true freshman, a number that could be in jeopardy if Harrison is forced to sit the last two games of the regular season. In addition his five rushing touchdowns are the most by a true freshman at Maryland since 1982.