As he enters his seventh season as a college quarterback at UTSA, Frank Harris has surely experienced his share of ups and downs, although recently the ups are crushing it.
Yet for all the success he has enjoyed, which includes two straight Conference USA titles and last season being named MVP of the conference, the 6-foot, 205-pound lefthander has endured adversity, some of which began before he enrolled in college.
As he prepares to lead UTSA into its first season in the American Athletic Conference, Harris says the adversity he faced at the beginning of his career has helped shape the current version.
“All those things happened for a reason and have made me the person I am today,” Harris said in an interview with HERO Sports.
What are those things?
Let’s start with his senior year in high school when Harris tore his left ACL. That forced him to redshirt his freshman year at UTSA in 2017.
He then tore his right ACL and missed all of the 2018 season.
He finally got on the field and started the first four games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury to his right shoulder that required surgery.
“I just couldn’t get a break with injuries and surgeries, and it was very frustrating,” he said.
Then came 2020, the COVID season in college football and Harris got his chance, sort of.
“That season was a little rough,” Harris said.
He was a starter, missed a game due to injury, and also got off to a rough start. Harris then saw Lowell Narcisse earn the starting job. But Narcisse was injured in that first start, a 28-16 home loss to Army. Harris then came in, and he has been there ever since.
“I look at all those things and said that maybe they happened for a reason,” Harris said. “So I am definitely grateful for those moments, even looking back it has made me a better person and made me cherish the moments a lot more.”
Despite the uncertainty of that 2020 season in which UTSA finished 7-5, Harris earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.
Harris then took off in 2021 when he was a second-team All-C-USA selection and set several single-season school records, including passing yards (3,177) and touchdown passes (27).
This past season he shattered his own records, completing 328 of 471 passes (69.6%) for 4,063 yards, 32 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Harris, who is among the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country, rushed for 602 yards (4.6 avg.) and nine touchdowns.
After last season, Harris, 24, had a decision to make. Should he attempt a shot at professional football or return for a final season? Due to his redshirting seasons and the COVID year that didn’t count on any player’s eligibility, he had another year to play college football.
He received feedback from NFL teams before making his decision.
“I did talk (to NFL talent evaluators) and I was ready to give it a shot and if it didn’t work out, I would go on with my life,” Harris said.
He certainly made the most of his scholarship, earning an undergraduate degree in sociology and recently a master’s degree in public administration.
Harris understood he wouldn’t have been a high draft choice in the 2023 NFL Draft, but there were other reasons why he decided to return. In this Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) era of college football, players, especially quarterbacks, have good earning power.
“It (NIL) has definitely changed the dynamics of college football,” he said. “My parents always told me don’t do something just for money, so it wasn’t the final thing in me coming back or not.”
Yet, it was a big factor, and so was getting one more chance to play for UTSA.
“I didn’t want to leave my teammates and I love playing for them and coach (Jeff) Traylor,” he said.
He also said that Traylor, who began at UTSA in the 2020 season, did a good job of re-recruiting him.
Harris also says that another year in college will improve his decision-making as a quarterback.
“My first few years in college I didn’t have a lot of reps, but now I am trying to settle more in the pocket, trying to go through my reads more, get to my fourth or fifth options, reading defenses and coverages, all those things are helped by having experience,” he said.
Harris has had many big games, but none bigger than UTSA’s 48-27 win over North Texas in last year’s C-USA championship.
In that game, he completed 32 of 37 passes for 341 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. He also rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Not surprisingly, he was named MVP of the game.
“My teammates did a great job,” he said. “And it was pretty cool that I was able to go out there playing very free.”
And now he and his teammates are preparing for their first season in the AAC, one in which the Roadrunners should be a factor.
UTSA opens at former AAC member Houston on Sept. 2 in a game that will be broadcast on FS1. Last year in the opener between these two teams, Houston captured a wild 37-35 triple-overtime victory in San Antonio.
Harris completed 28 of 43 for 337 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. He also rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown. Harris isn’t looking to reminisce. He said all that matters is the present and that opening game.
“All our eyes are on Houston,” he said. “As for the AAC, we will learn about each team the weekend of the game.”
He says that he hasn’t thought too much about his team’s move to the AAC. In his long career, Harris has learned one important lesson – never look past that next game.
And he is more than happy to have a season full of next games to look forward to in his final go-around for UTSA.