LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — July is the perfect time to allow your optimism rage as a college football fan.
No interceptions have been thrown. No fumbles have been lost. No injuries have sent guys to the training room.
Speed inspires optimism and excitement. Louisville receiver Tyler Harrell has the speed that can make you forget Harrell has caught just two passes in the three seasons since the Bobby Petrino coaching staff brought him to U of L from Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida.
This is why: According to the recorded times from the 2021 NFL Draft Combine, Anthony Schwartz of Auburn ran the fastest 40-yard dash time last winter at 4.26 seconds.
I did not forget former Trinity High School and Purdue star Rondale Moore, who ran the second-fastest time 40 at 4.29.
That also means that Schwartz was faster than former Louisville receivers Tutu Atwell (4.32) and Dez Fitzpatrick (4.46) or halfback Javian Hawkins (4.45).
Harrell said he has been timed in 4.24 seconds. There is a report that in another timing Harrell ran 4.219.
At either reading, that’s easily fast enough to be the swiftest player on the roster for coach Scott Satterfield’s third U of L team — and be one of the fastest players in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
If you are 6 feet tall and 190 pounds, like Harrell, that speed will get you on the field. It's your hands that will keep you on the field.
Like I believe I mentioned, July is the perfect time to let your optimism reign. When September arrives, and the Cardinals open the 2021 season against Ole Miss on Sept. 6 in Atlanta, Harrell’s speed will not be as important as his hands, ability to run pass routes and generate yardage.
Satterfield has been consistently excited about Harrell’s improvement and chances of becoming a productive player.
But the fine print also says this: In three seasons at Louisville Harrell has played in four games and caught two passes, both in 2018, his true freshman year. That was the season that he also returned three kickoffs for 71 yards, including a 37-yarder.
This season, the Cards return just two guys (Marshon Ford and Braden Smith) who had more than seven catches last season. Harrell did not play a snap last year.
Both Harrell and Satterfield say that he is ready for a more significant role.
“What I’m going to bring to the table is just be hard-working and fast,” Harrell said. “Fast tempo and great effort every play.
“They’re going to see a great route runner, beside having speed, good hands, good at getting off the ball, getting off the line and great blocking.
“Timing is everything so I always focus like every year is my last. I’ll just keep working hard until I’ll have that chance.”
Harrell arrived in 2018 as a 3-star recruit who was ranked the No. 135 receiver in the nation by 247Sports. According to 247, Harrell also had offers from Wake Forest, Syracuse, Illinois, Rutgers, Purdue, Oregon State, Cincinnati, Appalachian State and other schools.
He committed to U of L. He caught two passes in his first game against Georgia Tech in what became a lost season in Petrino’s farewell with the Cardinals.
He played against Boston College and Syracuse that season. In 2019, Harrell appeared against Eastern Kentucky and Mississippi State. In 2020, Harrell did not get on the field, but he said that he benefited from watching Atwell and Fitzpatrick.
“Tutu and Dez, just watching them playing ball, it made me realize it is the fundamentals of the game (that matter),” Harrell said.
Atwell was taken by the Los Angeles Rams in round two of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans selected Fitzpatrick in round four.
Playing time abounds for any Louisville receiver prepared to replace those two. Satterfield has praised Harrell’s off-season work.
“I knew somebody had to step up to the table,” Harrell said. “It’s my chance to step up.”
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