Ronnie Harrison continues to grow in his maturityBy Cody Estremera | 01/08/2018 4:20pm
Ronnie Harrison leads Alabama's defense with 70 tackles this year.
ATLANTA—Ever since he stepped onto the field wearing an Alabama jersey, Ronnie Harrison has been an impact player. Whether it is one of his bone crunching hits, interception or just his overall presence Harrison has been stellar in his three years at Alabama.
Since he became a starter his sophomore season, Harrison has dominated opposing offenses. He finished second on the team last year with 86 tackles, and is leading the way this year with 70. He also has five interceptions in that time.
“I just feel like I’m more knowledgeable,” Harrison said. “I know a lot more, and have a lot more technique down. I’ve just sharpened up my game all the way around.”
According to defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, the biggest step that Harrison has taken in the last few years is in his maturity.
“I think Ronnie has matured as a player,” Pruitt said. “He's matured on the field, off the field. And I've seen a lot of growth in him just in this year. But he does. He has a lot of passion about the game. He has a lot of passion for his teammates. And when he gets going, he kind of gets going.”
While in high school at Florida State University School, Harrison was a quarterback and the No. 12 safety according to the 247Sports composite. Pruitt was Harrison’s main recruiter while Pruitt was still at Georgia.
Pruitt said that being a high school quarterback is actually a huge advantage for defensive backs.
“He was a high school quarterback, which I like in defensive backs, because they’re used to making calls,” Pruitt said. “It tells you that they are pretty smart guys, and probably have really good ball skills. He’s tough, and a great competitor. He has passion about the game and he’s played really well for us this year.
He was in a three-way tie for first in interceptions before Mack Wilson’s pick six against Clemson. His biggest takeaway of the season came against LSU. He stepped in front of a Danny Etling pass intended for Derrius Guice. He returned it six yards before he was stopped. He then jumped right back up and sprinted 40 yards into the end zone.
“I was just excited, just turnt,” Harrison said. “I just felt like it was a statement play from the jump.”
In his third season Harrison had to step up as a more vocal leader, which defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said he’s fully accepted the role.
“I would say definitely just challenging himself to lead and to step outside of, outside of his comfort zone,” Fitzpatrick said. “He's definitely done that a whole lot, making more calls on the field, running to the ball more and that's led to more plays and more tackles, more interceptions by him.”
One staple of Harrison’s game has always been being one of the hardest hitters on the team. In Alabama’s game against Chattanooga in 2016, Harrison hit running back Richardre Bagley so hard out of bounds that he summersaulted and fell onto Alabama’s bench.
“He controls his half, and I control my half,” Fitzpatrick said. “And he's a great player. He's a big hitter, a punishing tackler. And he does his job and he has success.”