TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The mystery of Jerrell Harris’ eligibility is finally solved.
Alabama coach Nick Saban announced the sophomore linebacker would be eligible by the seventh game of the season. The NCAA delivered the news to the program Friday evening and Saban made the first public mention of the ruling in his weekly Monday news conference.
Harris, who violated an unspecified NCAA rule, will be eligible for the Oct. 17 home game with South Carolina. Saban didn’t want to talk too much about Harris’ ability to contribute to the injury-plagued linebacker unit with two games to play before he could return. He did, however, say Harris played well enough in preseason practices “to be a potential starter.”
However, with his status unknown for close to a month, Harris’ role in practice diminished.
“It would be a plan for us to wean him back into it gradually so he could maybe go when the time comes,” Saban said.
The first few depth charts released on Mondays before games listed Harris as the No. 2 Will linebacker behind Dont’a Hightower who was lost for the season with a knee injury Saturday.
As a freshman, Harris played in 10 games and made three tackles.
“He’s an incredible athlete,” Tide defensive end Lorenzo Washington said. “He’s still growing as a player and he has incredible speed and he’s been in the weight room this off-season gaining a lot more weight. He’s going to be an incredible player here.”
Mark Ingram made it no deeper than three yards into the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown reception before reversing field to thank the blocker that made it possible. Wide receiver Marquis Maze was the one receiving the love for the block that took out two Razorback defenders and allowed Ingram to ease past the goal line.
It was his blocking along with the backbreaking 80-yard touchdown catch that helped Maze share the team offensive player of the week award with Trent Richardson.
Richardson also picked up his second SEC freshman of the week honor Monday thanks in large part to his 52-yard touchdown run that included shedding four would-be tacklers. He finished with 65 yards on nine carries.
Rolando McClain and Javier Arenas split the defensive award. McClain’s leadership following Dont’a Hightower’s injury was huge, Saban said, as was Arenas’ two sacks.
The trio of Chris Rodgers, Tyrone King and Lorenzo Washington shared the special teams award. Rogers and King were recognized for their kick coverage play and Washington for his third-quarter punt block.
The SEC announced Monday that it was using an option in its television contract to delay announcing game times for four Oct. 10 contests including Alabama at Ole Miss.
The four remaining time slots run from 11 a.m. through 2:30 p.m. CDT with television possibilities including CBS, ESPN, ESPNU or the SEC Network. Florida’s game at LSU will kickoff at 7 p.m. on CBS.
The conference has until Monday, Oct. 5 to make the final decision that could come as early as Saturday.
This Saturday’s game with Kentucky was selected for the 11:21 a.m. time slot on the SEC Network.
Maze was still sprinting for the end zone on his 80-yard touchdown reception when McElroy turned and pointed towards the Alabama student section on Saturday.
It was the quarterback’s salute to his classmates who stuck out soaking pregame rain showers.
“The fact that is was pouring rain in the pregame it was disgusting and nobody wanted to be out there and the entire student section was completely full on the left side,” McElroy said. “It was encouraging and I want to thank them for that.”