University School has hired Phoenix Christian (Ariz.) Prep coach Brandon Harris as its new football coach, athletic director Paul Herfurth said Monday.
Harris, 46, replaces Roger Harriott, who resigned a month ago to become an assistant coach at Florida Atlantic.
A former University of Idaho receiver who also was a member of the Denver Broncos’ practice squad and played for Sacramento of the World Football League, Harris has 19 years of college and high school coaching experience. He has coached future NFL players including safety Mike Brown, and receivers Bobbie Wade and Zack Miller.
“He’s had a lot of success building and maintaining successful championship type programs,” Herfurth said, adding that Harris is scheduled to arrive Feb. 10. “We’re really excited about having him.
“We probably had five serious finalists. Coach Harris was just really the perfect fit. He has great experience, but also has the intangibles we were definitely looking for. It’s not just about a football coaching hire. It’s about having a great leader and someone with strong character to run our program. I wanted someone with a strong track record of getting kids in college.”
Harris’ first major task will be keeping the roster that remains intact. Several players from University’s 2013 team have transferred since Harriott’s departure – Herfurth confirmed at least nine – including highly touted running back Jordan Scarlett, defensive tackle Brandon Boyce and receiver Sam Bruce.
Harris has been Phoenix Christian’s head coach the past three seasons. He began his career as a graduate assistant at Idaho, and then coached receivers at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College. He was an assistant at three other high schools before becoming a head coach at Canisius High in Buffalo and winning a state championship in 2009.
Harris replaces a highly popular and successful coach in Harriott, who led the Suns to a 77-15 record with a state championship in 2012 and runner-up finish in 2010. The Suns were nationally ranked this past season, but lost to eventual national champ Booker T. Washington in the regional semifinals.
“He’s going to have fresh eyes on the program and fresh ideas,” Herfurth said, noting that some assistants on Harriott’s staff would remain with the program. “I wanted to get the best guy for the program, and not just a guy that knew South Florida football.”
Herfurth said he was impressed with Harris’ interaction with University’s current players. Harris met informally with many of them while in South Florida for his interview.
“That was one of the things that sealed the deal for me,” Herfurth said. “I saw an instant connection with him. You could see his leadership come out right away.”
In other news, Adam Ratkevich has been named the new head football coach at Western.
Ratkevich, who coached at Northeast and Deerfield Beach with a combined record of 47-73 over eight seasons, was an assistant Western from 1994-98 under Ray Buscemi.
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