ALAMOSA— Adams State University has removed the interim tag from Head Football Coach Jarrell Harrison, who will begin the 2021 campaign as the 24th coach in Adams State football history.
“First off, I would like to thank Interim AD Katelyn Smith and President Dr. Lovell for this amazing opportunity to lead the Adams State Football program into the future,” said Harrison. “I appreciate their confidence in me to mentor the wonderful student-athletes in our program and the ones we have recruited to join our campus and community. I want to thank them for their leadership within our institution, and their continued support of Adams State Football.”
“Coach Harrison is an exceptional coach, recruiter and mentor, and we are so excited to have him,” noted Smith of the appointment “He is committed to ensuring our student-athletes are successful on the field, in the classroom and in the community. He is a high-energy individual that believes in shaping the lives of these young men. His passion, dedication and enthusiasm will continue to be an asset to this campus, our department and this program.”
Harrison joined Adams State football in 2016 as a Running Backs Coach and Special Teams Assistant under former Head Coach Timm Rosenbach. He was promoted to interim head coach on January 5, 2021, after the resignation of former Head Coach Josh Blankenship. Blankenship finished his two-year tenure with the Grizzlies with an 8-14 (.364) overall record; 8-12 (.400) RMAC.
“Adams State is a special place with rich athletic tradition. I am honored to be the Head Football Coach at an exemplary institution surrounded by a great community and great people,” said Harrison. “I look forward to building a program that is hardworking, tough, accountable, and academically responsible. The way we will carry ourselves in the community, classroom, and our play on the field will always represent Adams State in a first-class manner. Let’s go W.I.N together!”
Harrison makes history for Adams State University as he becomes the first African American to lead the football program, this, the University’s 100th year.
Coach Harrison immediately hit the ground running in 2016 as he coached running back Corey Brown to an All-RMAC Honorable Mention season with 803 yards rushing and four touchdowns and averaged 5.0 yards per carry. Brown also added 37 receptions for 244 yards and one touchdown. As special teams assistant, in 2016 Coach Harrison helped produce RMAC Special Teams Player of the Week in punt returner Addie Brown, returning a 91-yard punt return in a comeback win over Chadron State.
In 2017 Adams State Football was home of the No. 1 passing offense in Division II with 353 yards-per-game. In that season, Corey Brown was once again selected to the All-RMAC Honorable Mention Team as he rushed for 823 yards and six touchdowns with a 5.2 average.
In 2018, Blankenship was promoted from Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach and hired Coach Harrison as the Defensive Backs Coach, Special Teams Coordinator, and Recruiting Coordinator. The 2018 season saw a breakout year from safety Garrett Jackson who led the RMAC in tackles with 127 and led the county in solo tackles per game 8.8.
Jackson was selected All-RMAC Honorable Mention.
In 2019, Coach Harrison’s second year in these roles, the Grizzlies showed much improvement in many areas. Opponents passing yards per game dropped 31 yards from the 2018 season average of 269 yards per game to 238 yards per game. With the improvement in pass-defense came an improvement in opponent completion percentage which was the best mark for Adams State Football since 2012 at 50 percent. Coach Harrison coached safety Donovan Robinson and cornerback Ereon Nash to All-RMAC Honorable Mention selection. Adams State Special Teams also saw improvements under Coach Harrison, especially the field goal unit where Erik Ruiz shined going 14-of-16 on FG attempts, including 6-6 from 40-49 yards. He finished the season top 5 in all of Division II in FG percentage capping it off with a Second Team All-RMAC selection.
Coach Harrison's playing career started at City College of San Francisco where he was a team captain and All-American free safety in 2008. His playing career continued at the University of Missouri where he was a two-year starter for the Big 12 title-contending Missouri Tigers. In 2010, the Tigers reached No. 6 in the country in the BCS Poll and Coach Harrison was third on the team in tackles with 69 and making Honorable Mention All-Big 12.
Jarrell Harrison earned his Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Business from the University of Missouri in the spring of 2011. In 2018 Coach Harrison earned his MBA (Business Leadership) from Adams State University. He was born January 4th, 1987 in Las Vegas, Nev.
Harrison and the Grizzlies are set to open the 2021 fall season on Saturday Sept. 4 when they host Western New Mexico in a non-conference tilt. In addition to the non-conference game with the Mustangs, the Grizzlies will host Western Colorado (Sept. 18), South Dakota Mines (Oct. 2), Chadron State (Oct. 16) and Fort Lewis (Nov. 6).