After tumultuous end to big freshman year, Maryland's Harrison settles into role with more maturity

A year ago at this time, running back Lorenzo Harrison III was out to prove he belonged on the football field as a freshman for Maryland and new coach DJ Durkin.

After a season during which he emerged as the team’s most productive back alongside then-sophomore Ty Johnson, Harrison is hoping to show he has matured enough to finish what he started.

Harrison had gained a team-high 663 yards and scored a team-best five touchdowns in his first nine games for the Terps. He was only 26 yards behind LaMont Jordan’s freshman rushing record when he was suspended for his role in an Airsoft gun incident Nov. 4.

Reinstated in January after all criminal charges were dropped, Harrison picked up where he left off in the spring. Now he hopes to build on what he did last season.

“I’m glad he’s up here with me,” Harrison said. “We had some really good times at . We had a really explosive offense there. I look forward to see what we both can do here.”

“Just working on speed and technique, tightening up things from last season,” Harrison said. “As a freshman, I didn’t know everything that was going on around the whole offense. Just learning everybody’s job and knowing what I have to do.”

At the time of Harrison’s suspension last season, Durkin said what happened was out of character given what the player showed on the field and off the field.

Not much has changed in that regard.

“He’s a veteran-type guy. He’s always been that kind of guy,” Durkin said before practice Wednesday. “He’s a really good student, a really good person and obviously a really good player.”

What has improved is Harrison’s grasp of the game.

“Now he has a much better understanding of how to play the position within our offense," Durkin said. “Last year he’d make some great players, but he’s out there kind of running around a little bit, doesn’t quite know. Now he’s a guy who knows where he’s at and what he’s doing and that makes him really dangerous.”

Just as Harrison pushed upperclassmen for playing time as a freshman, the 5-foot-8, 195-pound running back understands that some members of the 2017 recruiting class will be challenging him.

Asked who among the freshmen he has noticed the most, Harrison said: “Javon Leake has been looking pretty good. He’s been looking really good actually. He’s really fast, and I’m looking forward to see what he’s going to do this season.

“Actually they’re all looking good. Ant [Anthony McFarland] is looking good, Tayon [Fleet-Davis] is looking good. He came in with really good size. I feel like they’re all coming along pretty well. They all seem to grasp the offense pretty easily. I feel like they’re all transitioning well.”

Harrison is familiar with McFarland, having played with him at nearby DeMatha.

Despite competing to be the No. 1 running back, Harrison is close with Johnson.

“We push each other,” Harrison said. “That’s all I can ask for from him. He pushes me. He teaches me things, I teach him things. I love it.”

Harrison said one of the biggest things he has learned from Johnson is how to take care of his body.

“He kind of helped me along, he said, ‘You should do this, or you need to stretch here or stretch here, I think that’s the most helpful.”

don.markus@baltsun.com

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