De’Jon Harris picked up the nickname “Scoota” long before ever touching a football.
His mom gave it to him.
“Before I ever started walking, she says I would just scoot around all over the place,” Harris said.
The name stuck.
And Harris, now a do-it-all senior at John Ehret, seems to still be just scooting all over the place.
He plays linebacker, punter and kicker for the Patriots.
He also played running back until the injury bug bit the Patriots in a big way during the first game of the season when quarterback Caron Baham went down with a knee injury.
Patriots coach Corey Lambert toyed with some other options before finally settling on the answer before the fourth game of the season: “Scoota.”
Lambert came to the conclusion after a discussion one night with his wife Jenny.
“We were talking and she told me to stop being so herky-jerky and stick with him,” Lambert said. “I’m a firm believer that your best all-around player has to touch the ball, especially in high school. One of my best ballplayers went down, so I had to go to the other one.”
Harris had never taken a snap as quarterback in a game or practice in high school. He last played the position in the seventh grade, but said he wasn’t nervous about playing quarterback.
He handled the transition just fine, helping lead Ehret to the Class 5A state championship. The Patriots will play Zachary at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Ehret, which produced the NFL’s version of Slash in Kordell Stewart, now has Slash 2 in Harris.
Harris will be the one wearing the No. 2 uniform, playing a major role on both sides of the ball for the Patriots, who making their first title game appearance since 1985.
“It’s going to feel good because we have been waiting for this day since our freshman year,” Harris said.
But the Dome had to seem like a far-fetched idea for Harris as a freshman. The Patriots went 0-9 that year, which makes this trip even more special for Harris and the other 14 Ehret seniors.
“It’s great knowing that we have helped put this program back on the map,” Harris said. “We are glad to get it back to where it used to be.”
While Harris has switched over and led the offense with 999 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns to go with his 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, he has been an equally part of the stingy defense as well.
The 6-foot, 230-pound Harris has 80 tackles, including 13 tackles for loss and four sacks. He’s forced a pair of fumbles and also has an interception.
“Scoota’s a quiet kid who doesn’t say a word, but does everything you ask him to,” Lambert said. “Scoota kick the ball. Scoota get the water. He’s going to do whatever you ask. He just plays.”
Harris committed to Arkansas in May and said he is still solid on his commitment. He is expected to play linebacker for the Razorbacks, but has been told by the coaching staff that he could play in some special offensive packages as well.
Lambert has a warning for the Arkansas staff if they decide to do that.
“If they put him on the offensive side of the ball, the coaches are going to end up fighting for him,” Lambert said. “He could play on that side, too. That’s how special of a player he is.”
Those who are around Harris everyday say he is just as special off the field.
Ehret Athletic Director Sheena Smith attended Tuesday’s practice and raved about Harris.
A “Scoota jersey” is the one item on the Christmas list of Smith’s 8-year old nephew.
“People just gravitate toward Scoota because he has that magnetic, infectious personality,” Smith said. “He’s always got a smile on his face and is always happy. He is just so determined to be good. He knows he can’t do it on his own, but he will run through a wall for you if he has to. We are fortunate to have a kid like him here. I’m not sure if we will have another one like him anytime soon.”
Harris already knows he will have mixed emotions about his final game in an Ehret uniform.
“It hurts a little knowing we have one last game together,” Harris said. “You never know how the outcome is going to be, but you know it’s your last game with your brothers that you started with.”
And also for those who he started with, but didn’t finish, like running back Byron James, who suffered a season-ending injury.
And, of course, Baham, who Harris had to replace.
“We want to do it for Caron and Byron and the whole coaching staff,” Harris said. “We want this bad.”