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Romello Harris chasing section and state marks through humbleness

Photo by Lorenzo Reyna/Passing Down

Romello Harris of Tulare Union High School insists that he doesn’t gloat about himself, even though his big plays on the football field have made him a possible threat to break two prominent state rushing records.

The Class of 2016 running back, who currently has 6,315 career rushing yards, has had teammates and coaches tell him how close he is to shattering the Central Section’s all-time career rushing mark of 8,030 yards held by Edgar Segura of Mendota, which Segura has held since last year. Harris is also 3,348 yards away from shattering Toby Gerhart’s state-best 9,662 career mark that he set in 2011. Harris – who is already at 947 rushing yards through the first three games of the season, giving him an average of 315.7 yards per game – said he’s trying to be humble despite being surrounded by the believers who tell him that one of those records will fall.

“My teammates tell me ‘You’re going to break the section record.’ My offensive linemen tell me ‘We’re going to get you the record.’ Other people tell me ‘You need this much more.’ But I don’t really think or talk about it,” Harris said. “I just keep to myself. It’s not something that I want to brag about.”

Harris may not be someone who likes to toot his own horn, but he’s been a freight train during his illustrious four-year varsity career at Tulare. Harris has gone from an elusive slasher during his underclassmen years to becoming an inside/outside workhorse who’ll run around or over defenders. Harris shows no trepidation with attacking the middle of the field on dive and blast plays. He takes the handoff, gashes past arm tackles and once a defender tries to stop him square up, Harris still keeps his legs moving like he’s a train’s wheels pushing against a large rock. He said he owes his credit to his five closest friends on the football field – his offensive linemen.

“The line has been blocking pretty good,” Harris said. “I’m pretty close to my linemen. We always hang out.”

Tulare’s run blocking schemes vary. Depending on the defensive look, Tulare sometimes relies on zone blocking and pulling guards to open running lanes, Harris said. He’s not only displayed his mettle on inside runs, Harris shows a second gear after breaking tackles and zooms his way to the end zone.

His statistics have climbed since he joined TUHS as a freshman. His varsity football debut saw 947 yards and 14 touchdowns. His sophomore campaign ended with 1,860 yards and 15 touchdowns. His junior season put the Central Valley and different NCAA Division-I college coaches on notice, as he piled 2,561 yards and 31 touchdowns in 12 games. Through all of his commendations under the football lights, Harris said he believes the best is still to come.

“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty good, but I feel like I can be better,” Harris said. “Yet, I’m playing the best football of my high school career.”

One lucky college football program will have an ecstatic fan base once Harris decides which school he’ll commit to. Harris has no timetable for when he’ll make a decision, but holds 12 different offers from Duke, Air Force, Navy, Army, Fresno State, Colorado State, Eastern Washington, UC Davis, Yale, Harvard, Washington and Washington State. He’s also hearing more from two ex-national championship winning programs through letters: USC and Florida.

He’s the latest superstar to come from Bob Mathias Stadium. He’s carrying the torch left behind by past Tulare High greats Xavier Stephens (Northern Arizona), Marquess Wilson (Chicago Bears), Zac Diles (free agent NFL linebacker), Edward Dillihunt (Azusa Pacific) Virgil Green (Denver Broncos) and the late former Olympian Mathias. The former football players offer Harris advice when they make their rounds in Tulare.

“The main thing they tell me: ‘Work hard and have fun,’” Harris said. “Because high school football is an amazing thing. It makes you want to work hard. Everything you do is 100%.”

If Harris falls short of both prestigious rushing records, he still hopes he’ll leave his impact on his city.

“Hopefully they’ll remember me as a great kid,” Harris said. “I’m pretty nice to everyone. I’m not a mean guy or anything like that. Hope they view me as a good guy and a role model.”

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Lorenzo Reyna

Lorenzo Reyna hails from the California's Central Coast, but has a bevy of experience with covering some fast-rising athletes from all over the Golden State. He's a former sports editor for The Reedley Exponent newspaper. His other credits include scout.com and nflevolution.com.
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