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Pair of local high schools stars thrust into big roles for TCU Football

They started their careers at Aledo High School, not too far from where they hope to make their names.

TCU Football Practice August 3, 2019
Wyatt Harris, wearing #25, has made a strong early impression.
Melissa Triebwasser

Aledo High School is a verifiable football power. The small town of just under 4,300 people sits about 25 minutes west of TCU, making the university a popular post-grad destination for many of the students who matriculate through the local high school.

It has also become a popular home for those that strap on the pads each fall, as the Horned Frogs boast three former Bearcats on their active roster. AHS has produced a host of DI talent through their program, one of the 5A classification for the school of 1,300. They have won eight state titles in 21 years, bolstered by great players from Johnathan Gray and Jase McClellan, with many in between. TCU tapped into one of the great Bearcat lineages, signing offensive lineman Wes Harris is 2017 and his brother Wyatt, a defensive lineman/linebacker, two seasons later. They also tabbed defensive end Colt Ellison in the class of 2019, making for a three-headed monster of future stars.

Well, it appears the future is now.

Wes Harris played 11 games for the Horned Frogs in 2018 after redshirting his first season on campus, filling in at various positions across the o-line and starting five games at right guard. The former four star recruit is competing for a starting role this fall, and has a good chance to be a mainstay at the right guard position. With both Colt and Wyatt suffering injuries their senior seasons, it’s likely that the plan for both defensive players was to take a redshirt year this season as well. The younger Harris was slated to move to defensive end, where he would need to add weight to his 6’3”, 218 pound frame, while Ellison was still recovering from his own injury issues into the summer months.

But, with both healthy, and several other TCU defensive players dinged up, the bell rung early for these two young guys, and according to Gary Patterson, they’ve answered it. Speaking after a scrimmage a week into camp, Patterson said “Colt and Harris both had to play more - they’ve had to play a lot in camp because of numbers. So this was good for them today.” Ellison has looked sharp throughout camp, improving daily and looking like a guy who can contribute as a true freshman on a defensive line that has been banged up throughout camp. While Ochaun Mathis and Shameik Blackshear will likely be “the guys” at defensive end, Ellison has a chance to get plenty of snaps in a rotation that could also feature Parker Workman and Adam Plant, Jr. With Blackshear, Workman, and Plant all missing time over the two weeks of camp, Ellison has not only stepped in to fill a role, he’s gotten valuable reps with the first team and certainly made a name for himself in GP’s eyes.

Harris’ story is a little different - as injuries have mounted at linebacker and with Montrel Wilson leaving the team, Wyatt has slid back a level to the position that he dominated in high school, and done so fairly seamlessly, according to the head coach. “I’ll tell you, Wyatt Harris has made a big difference. He didn’t even practice and went out and did unbelievable today [in the Frogs’ final scrimmage].” A top 60 player at his position in high school, Harris totaled 179 tackles, six interceptions and two fumble recoveries in his prep career - despite missing the majority of his senior season due to injury. Wyatt came back late in the year to help lead the Bearcats deep into the postseason, displaying toughness and a commitment to team.

Though it would be unusual to see a true freshman start at defensive end or linebacker - and while it’s unlikely we will see that as far as these two players go on August 31st - it’s great experience for the young guys to get reps with the first team - and look the part. If either or both are pressed into critical roles this fall, it appears that the moment - or the ask itself - won’t be too big for them.

And they’ll get to do it just 25 minutes from home.