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Penn State cornerback A.J. Harris explains why he transferred from Georgia

When cornerback A.J. Harris decided to leave Georgia last year, he turned to a school that had recruited him out of high school.

That wound up being Penn State.

“It was more so making the best decision for me to grow as a man and as a football player,” Harris said after practice Tuesday night. “I believe, just off the track record at Penn State, it has much more to offer than just football.

“And then you have somebody like Coach Terry (cornerbacks coach Terry Smith), who’s developed multiple DBs. It was a no-brainer.”

The 6-1, 188-pound Harris was a five-star prospect out of Central High School in Phenix City, Ala., a school that has produced several Penn State players. His coach there was Patrick Nix, the father of former Auburn and Oregon quarterback Bo Nix.

Three recruiting services rated Harris as one of the top 35 prospects in the country in the 2023 recruiting class.  He played in seven games last season at Georgia and made eight tackles.

After Penn State lost Kalen King, Johnny Dixon and Daequan Hardy, Harris will compete with Cam Miller, Zion Tracy, Elliot Washington and Florida transfer Jalen Kimber at cornerback.

“He’s been really good,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “He understands what it takes to be competitive at this level. I think he’s really enjoying Penn State, the coaching staff, his teammates, the locker room. I think he’s comfortable here.

“He’s showing real consistent signs that he’s going to be able to help this year.”

Harris said he asked Smith and other Penn State coaches about the defensive line and how strong it would be over the next three seasons.

“The defensive line mattered to me a lot,” he said, “because the quicker they get to the quarterback the less that I have to cover. I definitely need those guys up there getting to the quarterback as quickly as possible.”

Smolik out: Franklin confirmed earlier reports that redshirt freshman quarterback Jaxon Smolik sustained an undisclosed injury and has missed all of spring practice.

“He’s gotten a significant injury,” Franklin said. “He will be out for a period of time, but it is significant. That’s correct.”

Freshman Ethan Grunkemeyer, who enrolled in January, has been receiving work behind Drew Allar and Beau Pribula. They’re the only scholarship quarterbacks available this spring.

“That door was opened when Jaxon wasn’t able to practice,” Pribula said. “I think it gives Ethan an opportunity to grow up a little faster than he would have and get chances with the 3s (third-teamers).”

Cousins impresses: Freshman offensive lineman Cooper Cousins, a four-star recruit who enrolled in January, has impressed Penn State coaches this spring.

The 6-6, 319-pound Cousins led Erie McDowell to the District 10 Class 6A title last season while playing center. He was rated one of the top five interior linemen in the country.

“He probably came in further ahead than most guys,” Franklin said. “He was getting a lot of attention and a lot of people noticed him, (like) coaches and teammates. As the playbook started to build up and the blitzes and different fronts started, he had a lull to work through like most of these guys.

“Now he’s starting to pick it back up again.”

Cousins has received work at center and guard.

“He’s done a ton of really good things this spring,” Franklin said. “Come fall camp, he’s going to put himself in position to compete.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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