AJ Harrison: 2022 Pro Prospect Interview
Name: AJ Harrison
School: University of Toledo
What goals did you set and/or accomplish in your final collegiate season?
My goal started with being all conference. I looked to jump into a rotation with some talented guys and have the best room in the MAC. Dealing with a shoulder injury left me out of rotation for awhile, ultimately becoming a special teams heavy player. I was able to put together good film on special teams that could help me make a push to a professional league.
Q: How do you think you took advantage of the extra year of eligibility to increase your chances of going pro?
I think the biggest advantage that came with the extra year of eligibility was the chance to learn football more in depth. Being able to win matchups outside of physical battles is a major part of the game. Understanding coverages, fronts, and player positions allowed me to play faster and smarter than I did in the past. On the next level being able to understand the game from a conceptual level is very important.
Q: What would your coaches and teammates say about the type of player you are?
I believe my coaches would describe me as a physical, intelligent player, that knows how to utilize speed and quickness within matchups to gain an advantage. Deemed undersized by some, I was able to create wins for myself in many areas where others would lose through learned techniques from my position coach and studying other players with similar physiques. Some of my teammates could describe me a deceptive. Battling our linebacker room we like to keep track of who wins during 1 on 1’s or coverage battles, and I think that the way I move is still something many aren’t accustomed to.
Q: When you are studying film, what are the things you focus on to improve your game?
When I’m studying film I’ve learned to look for player-tells. What body positions, stances, hand movements, tilts, or leans are they in that indicate what they could be doing post snap. I also study the depths and alignments of players in relation to formation of the offense. There are many stories that are told pre-snap that can help you sniff out what the defense is planning to do. Knowing these and studying these constantly gives you an edge over the competition. Furthermore, I like to dive deep into personnel. I look to see how well players play with each other. There are substitutions constantly and there are some players that may play better or worse when they are out there with a certain teammate.
Q: What separates you from the other pro prospects at your position?
I believe the driving difference between me and others in my position is the ability to be extremely versatile. I’ve been labeled by some as a Hybrid TE, that exists in between a TE and a FB. I can block from attached, the backfield, and the slot. I can run routes with receiver-esque skill level, and I have a knack for being able to get open and find the holes in a zone. My view and understanding of football is also extremely broad due to my knowledge and experience at multiple positions such as Wide Receiver and Free Safety.
Q: What is your offseason plan to train and prepare for professional opportunities?
I plan to train in Toledo, Oh with the help of an experienced set of coaches and trainers that have experience training guys for a Pro Day. I look to change my diet and workout regime to get in the best shape possible for the big day. I look forward to the process that is to come.
Q: What kind of strengths and abilities will you bring to a team that will stand out both on and off the field?
On the field I think I allow a team to be multidimensional. There will have to be eyes on the TE at all times further opening up the big play guys that play outside the tackle box. A willful attitude to do whatever is asked of me to the best of my ability. Grit and determination to make it happen even in instances where I have no control. The want to learn and get better, and excel on special teams with opportunities given. Off the field, I believe I bring to a team a good and genuine man. I have learned a lot through many trials and hardships that I’ve garnered in my life so far. Thought those experiences I have learned to appreciate the good, bad, and ugly. This attitude has allowed me to connect with so many of my teammates to the point we’re like family now. The genuine ability to connect and relate is something I think is very important to have in a locker room.
Q: What is your final pitch to the NFL and any other pro leagues?
I look to come in and go straight to work. I understand that with limited tape and statistical discrepancies it would be easy to pass on a guy like me. I know that with the ability I have I will be able to exploit matchups, be a contributor on special teams, and bring a great person into the locker room that looks to uplift and uphold the standard of myself, those around me, and the organization that I am apart of. Long shot kid, with a lot of upside. Thank you for your time!