One of the bigger stories in 2010 that never got much coverage was the departure of Sherrod Harris from the team in early August.
This was overshadowed by the fact that Texas had two true freshmen left to fill the quarterback depth chart with an already inexperienced yet hyped player in Garrett Gilbert taking first team snaps. Reports out of Austin cited academics and his desire to concentrate on graduating as his reason for leaving the team.
But some surprising news has recently hit the blogosphere. A Texas alumnus posted a paper that she claims was written for a class and features an interview with Harris regarding his time as a Longhorn football player. The article, written by Laken Litman, begins as a narrative about Sherrod's early years in high school and his recruitment by schools like LSU, Florida State and Texas.
It goes on to say that he considered a transfer after spending two years as the backup to Colt McCoy, but coaches would not allow him to transfer to any division above Division II. There was more conflict in 2009 when Garrett Gilbert was named the No. 2 starter above Harris after he was assured that the injury he suffered would not affect the depth chart.
Being the team player Harris is, he refused to make a public scene about it and said he wouldn't complain as long as they won games; in a twist of fate, this was the season Texas went undefeated all the way to the BCS National Championship game.
Going into halftime down 24-6, coaches told Harris that he would be starting the second half. Litman goes on to write this:
After the break, Brown told Harris he was going to start the second half.
“I was like finally,” Harris said. “I've been waiting a long time. A long ass time. It was my time. I knew all the plays.”
Helmet in hand, Harris stood in the middle of some ex-Longhorns who now play in the NFL on the sideline before the second half started. Vince Young, Aaron Ross, Brian Orakpo and Kasey Studdard – all members of the 2005 National Championship team – were pumping Harris up. He was ready. Confident. Smiling.
Right as special teams kicked off, Brown approached Harris while he was still surrounded by some of the Longhorns’ all-time greatest players and said, “Hey, we’re going to go with Garrett, we don’t want to hurt his confidence.”
He later goes on to say that he told Brown in the 2010 preseason that he was leaving the team with the final straw in the camel's back being Brown's unwillingness to say that Harris would have a chance to start. Sherrod emptied out his locker, packed up his things, and made his final trip out of the locker room as a Texas Longhorn football player.
Harris has mentioned on his twitter account @sherrodharris that although there are some exaggerations, the main points made are true. No players former or current have made any comment on this story, so it has yet to be determined if this account is accurate or if Harris just has a case of sour grapes. Nonetheless, it does make for an interesting conversation about the past season and Mack Brown's possible willingness to protect Gilbert's confidence.
The Kansas State game is the perfect example of that. The Texas offense was practically ineffective against the Wildcats and Gilbert's five interception performance didn't inspire a comeback either. Backup quarterbacks Case McCoy and Connor Wood didn't see a single snap in that game, and Sherrod's account of the National Championship game sounds more believable after fans witnessed that disaster of a game in Manhattan.
Do you believe Sherrod Harris' story is accurate? How does this make you feel about Mack Brown's handling of Garrett Gilbert last season? Would things have been different if Harris had taken snaps against Alabama? Let us know.