Texas Longhorns fans may not be too familiar with the name Desmond Harrison, but they sure will be soon.
Harrison, one of the top-ranked junior college players in the country last year, committed to the Horns last spring. For the past ten days, however, there has been a bizarre ongoing saga between the Longhorns and Brigham Young University that has called his eligibility into question.
On the first day of fall practice, reports out of Austin raved about the 6’8″, 310-pound offensive tackle, stating that he was far and way the best offensive linemen on the team. Fans immediately got excited, seeing as how the offensive line is in dire need of all the help they can get and his presence automatically upgrades the squad.
The following day, however, Harrison was kept out of practice. It was later reported that he may not be eligible to play after all due to concerns about an online class he took last spring.
While in his final semester at Contra Costa Community College (California), Harrison completed and passed on online, independent study class offered through Brigham Young University . Credit was awarded and he graduated from CCCC, clearing the way for him to enroll at Texas; all appeared to be looking good for Harrison and the Longhorn staff was excited to add a player of his caliber.
That is until BYU decided to rescind credit based on the fact that Harrison was a student-athlete, something they obviously missed the first time.
So, if Harrison took the class, received credit, graduated, and was later accepted to Texas, what exactly is the problem?
Since 2006, BYU has had a policy in place that prohibits non-BYU student athletes from receiving credit for their online courses. While there was indeed a disclaimer on their website for the class Harrison took, it certainly wasn’t very easy to find. Adding to the confusion is the fact that any non-athlete and BYU student athlete is able to take the course for full credit. Many conspiracy theorists were also concerned that BYU just so happens to have the Longhorns on the schedule this fall.
Not wanting to do anything to permanently damage Harrison’s eligibility, the Longhorns kept him out of practice after BYU warned them of the situation, but appealed to BYU to reinstate credit for the course. The appeal was promptly denied by BYU officials, but the Longhorns, especially offensive line coach Stacey Searels, were prepared to fight for Harrison.
Tuesday, UT officials reached out to the NCAA, arguing that too much has transpired since Harrison was first awarded credit for BYU to rescind it now. Furthermore, the school did a poor job of enforcing their policy from the beginning, or credit would never have been given in the first place.
Ultimately, the NCAA agreed that they would indeed find in favor of Harrison on the matter. On Wednesday, he was officially cleared by them.
This is huge news for a Texas team that has struggled on the offensive line over the last several years. With a new offensive coach calling the plays, an outstanding stable of running backs, a young but talented group of receivers, and a more experienced David Ash, expectations for this year’s Longhorn offense are high; many fans, however, consider the offensive line to be the biggest question mark offensively.
Now, with the news that Harrison will be on the field this year, they will be vastly improved this season.
The two teams face off in Utah on September 7 in the second game of the season.