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Arizona ‘looking for big things’ from pass rusher Jalen Harris

jalen-harris-arizona-football-pass-rusher-weight-defensive-end-stud-sacks-depth-chart-2019 Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When we last talked to sophomore defensive end Jalen Harris, it was April and he was recovering from an illness that robbed him of some of the hard-earned weight he put on throughout the spring.

“It was a little frustrating because I got used to the weight,” Harris said at the time. “I enjoyed playing with it. I feel just as quick. It helps a lot because I also feel a lot stronger, I’m able to get O linemen off of me. That was a big problem for me.”

The lanky pass rusher, who played around 230 pounds last season, was able to top out at 242 pounds, just eight pounds shy of the 250-mark he hopes to reach at some point, before getting sick.

But fast forward to late July and Harris has fully recovered from that illness—and then some. Thanks to the help of strength and conditioning coach Brian Johnson and his mother’s macaroni and cheese, Harris recently weighed in at 249 pounds, according to Arizona Wildcats head coach Kevin Sumlin.

“He’s had a great offseason,” Sumlin said Wednesday at Pac-12 Media Day. “When I left the other day, we had some weigh-ins, I think on Friday, and he was just under 250. So he’s like 249.”

Many view Harris as a breakout candidate for the Wildcats, who have struggled to rush the passer in recent seasons and have to replace the formidable interior defensive line tandem of PJ Johnson and Dereck Boles.

Harris logged three sacks in 12 games last season, emerging as the starter at the STUD position for the final four games of the season. He followed that up with a strong spring, tallying several sacks and quarterback pressures in the spring game.

Sumlin stoked the fire Wednesday, saying that Arizona is “looking for big things from Jalen” in 2019.

“He’s got length and athleticism, had a great spring,” Sumlin said. “He’s really coming on as a pass rusher, and we need him to come on. We hope and we want him to be that guy, the pass rusher that we need to have to pressure...and create havoc.”