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2022 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: AJ Harrison, TE, University of Toledo

AJ Harrison the standout tight end from The University of Toledo recently sat down with Justin Berendzen of Draft Diamonds
  • Name: AJ Harrison
  • Position: TE
  • College: University of Toledo
  • Height: 6’2″
  • Weight: 243 lbs
  • Twitter: @aj_harrisonjr
  • Instagram: @harrisona_2

What made you decide you wanted to be a football player?

I fell in love with the game young watching old highlights of guys like Walter Payton and Eric Dickerson. I loved watching someone that was untouchable on offense, and if they were touched people payed for it. I knew then I wanted to be a football player, just for the opportunity to be something great, whether I would or would not become that.

What type of energy do you bring onto the football field?

I think I bring motivated energy, I’m more of the guy that cheers on those doing well, but looks to bring along players that may be having a tough game. I think that it’s important to make sure talented guys aren’t left to sort it out by themselves. They’re key parts to a teams success. I look to be the glue of a team, able to talk and mesh with everyone in the locker room.

What sets you apart from other tight ends?

I think I bring a diversified skill set to the table. I was a receiver before transitioning to TE, and I think this has given me an edge when it comes to route running. Stats won’t reflect, but there’s film that shows it. In front of a professional team I believe that will be noticed. I also have a love for watching film outside of designated times, which gives you an upper hand in understanding leverage and tendencies of your opponent. I’m sort of a hybrid I can play FB as well. Giving me the capability to play in the backfield, attached, and from the slot. Knowledge from playing receiver gives me the capabilities to play out wide as well.

What is your favorite route and why?

My favorite route is a corner-hook. This route requires you to know what’s going on in the secondary and recognize coverage. If it’s cover 3 or 4 you run the hook off of the corner route, and if it’s man you have to run the corner. It shows route running capability and the ability to read and react on the run.

If you could hang out with any football player past or present for a day who and why?

It’d have to be Walter Payton. He was the one that made me start loving the sport. His knowledge of the game, the way he moved, and the way everyone viewed him all contribute to why I even became interested in the sport. I think that’d be nice.

What are your favorite moments from your football life?

My favorite moments in chronological order have to be winning a nail biter in high school during homecoming week. Big plays were needed on offense and defense, and my team came to play that night. Capping it off with a 97 yard drive. Next, it would be getting put on scholarship after walking on to a JUCO. (Coffeyville Community College) There were some big games and thrillers that year as well. The biggest and most exciting moment that season had to be against Dodge City, I had a career high in catches in a game and played a solid game all around as a blocker. At Toledo, my most favorite moment was getting put on scholarship in front of the team and hard work being recognized after playing and contributing for two seasons. Playing at Toledo, and being on that field was a dream come true. I never thought it would happen for me after missing out on the chance early in life, but it came again and it was truly a full circle moment for me in my life.

What should we know about AJ Harrison the person?


AJ the person is an empathetic and cooperative person that looks to better those around me at all cost. I love giving back and spending time in the community bettering the youth and spending time with family whenever I get the chance. I’m heavily into music, and spend a lot of time listening to artists that may be mainstream, but are extremely different. I don’t do much outside of my obligations. Working hard and pushing forward is what I spend a majority of my time doing, going out and partying is long off my to-do list.

How are you planning to prepare for the draft?

On the 10th I start a 10 week training program that will help me get leaner, build strength, explosion, and coordination. Going to continue studying film and techniques that will allow me to perform on the highest level. There will be a fair share of strength, agility, speed, and yoga training that will change my body and lifestyle. These lifestyle changes will make pro life more suitable and not an insane transition. Utilizing the tools on campus as well as trainers with experience in getting guys ready for the NFL of professional leagues is a great opportunity that I look forward to.

What do you love about the game of football?

I love the process more than anything about football. There’s such a fulfilling feeling about seeing progression, and learning throughout time. I enjoy the chance given to be physical. It’s controlled violence and I think it helps people, especially me, with an outlet for pinned up emotions. It’s brought brotherhood to my life in many ways that I didn’t expect. It’s the greatest team sport in the world.

What would a team get in a player like you?

A team is getting a player that loves to work. I’m a coachable guy that tries to apply technique taught to the best of my ability. I’m persistent and relentless in my approach to get better. I take coaching well and build positive relationships in the room easily. A team is also getting a guy that looks to excel on special teams. Constantly trying to be better and set others up to succeed.

What do you think are the keys to success on the football field?

I believe keys to success start off the field. A thorough understanding of the game. That’s obtained through a lot of film study and making sure you know your assignments, as well as the assignments of others around you. Following this a consistent set of work on the field in times outside of obligation. A lot of people overlook how many hours it takes on the field away from the team to become successful. A good relationship with your coaches and a strong foundation of trust is vital. Without that you can be the most talented guy on a roster and won’t play simply due to the fact that a coach can’t trust you.

What are you looking to achieve as a football player going forward?

As a football I’m looking to prove myself to scouts during my pro day, and land on a team. All I need is an opportunity. From there, there is only one goal. Win. I want to help a team win in any way possible, and will do whatever it takes to do so. Special teams, offense, and even if I were asked to play defense I would. I want to win and I want to play. I’ll do whatever it takes to achieve those two goals.

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