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Robinson offensive lineman E'Marion Harris (76) blocks Shiloh Christian defensive lineman Thomas Reece (79) during the fourth quarter of the Senators' 42-14 win over Shiloh Christian in the Class 4A state championship game on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
LITTLE ROCK — Joe T. Robinson offensive lineman E’Marion Harris disclosed a secret Wednesday afternoon that neither he, his family nor his coaches knew about until just before his senior season began.
It did little to stop him from doing what he’s done for the past four years with the Senators.
“He’s played the last two seasons with a torn ACL,” Robinson defensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and strength and conditioning coach Brian Maupin said of Harris, who signed his national letter of intent with the University of Arkansas inside the school’s Champion Center during a ceremony. “He tore his ACL in the first game of the season last year at Pulaski Academy. He slapped a brace on, toughed it out and didn’t miss a beat.
“He’s regarded as one of the best players in the nation, and that’s on one leg. I really think it’s going to be scary to see him going forward with two legs.”
Two legs figure to suit Harris just fine in the SEC, but to see what he was able to do on one was just downright unfair.
The 6-7, 370-pounder, who was offered a scholarship by Alabama when he was a 12-year-old, committed to the Razorbacks in the spring after spurning additional offers from other Power 5 suitors such has Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, Mississippi State and Missouri. Harris was a first-team Arkansas Democrat-Gazette All-Arkansas Preps performer as well as an all-stater as a junior, but may have been even more dominant as a senior.
The consensus 4-star tackle didn’t allow a sack and graded out at nearly 87% for a Robinson offense that averaged almost 43 points per game. On defense, he was virtually unblockable while registering 61 tackles, including 28 for losses, with 2 forced fumbles and 1 sack.
However, the fact that Harris was able to generate those kinds of numbers with a torn ACL is about as stunning as the lists of prestige programs that were vying for his services.
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“I didn’t know [about the injury] until this year before the PA game,” said Harris, whose team played the reigning Class 5A state champions in the season opener in back-to-back seasons. “It was just all crazy to me. Me and my family, we just sat down and talked about it, talked to [Maupin] about it. And then I just finally came up with the decision that God kept me safe all last season.
“So I was like, ‘Just go play this season.’ ”
The four-year letterman, who’s father Elliott was a defensive end at Arkansas from 2001-04, started 58 games in his career, with the first one coming in 2018 as a 13-year-old freshman against Class 7A Springdale. The Senators lost that game 48-28, but with Harris in the trenches, they didn’t lose many others.
He was a part of 48 victories and helped lead Robinson to two state titles, including this season.
“It’s a special day for a special young man and his family,” Robinson Coach Todd Eskola said. “E’Marion Harris is quite the special athlete, and an even better young man.”
Harris admitted that Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman relayed to him that he’d start off playing tackle, where he was ranked No. 31 recruit in the nation. But he also admitted that he’s not opposed to playing elsewhere along the front, particularly because he’s played all five positions before.
It’s that kind of humility that his high school coaches said sets Harris apart.
“One of the most humble superstars you can ever meet in your whole life,” said Maupin, whose also said he has known Harris since he was a third-grader. “He hates the cameras, Twitter and all the other stuff that comes with being a 4- and 5-star recruit. But he loves football, he loves his family and he loves being a Robinson Senator.
“If you ask me, those things are the most important. But now, he loves being an Arkansas Razorback.”
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