It’s one of the premier high school football showcases in the country, where some of the nation’s most highly recruited players come together to form All-Star teams and battle one last time on the gridiron.
Entering its 13th year, the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game has long been known to feature some of the top names in football.
Several Arizona prep football stars have appeared in the game, including Perry alum Mo Latu (2011), Hamilton alums Christian Westerman (2011) and Casey Tucker (2014), Chaparral alums Davonte Neal (2012) and Connor Brewer (2012), Pinnacle alum Spencer Rattler (2019), Saguaro alum Christian Kirk (2015), Chandler alum Brayden Liebrock (2019), Mountain Pointe alum Isaiah Pola-Mao (2017) and Desert Ridge alum Adam Bay (2017), among others.
Now, it’s Higley senior defensive end Jason Harris’ turn to play on a national stage.
“It means a lot, I’ve been watching this game since I was like 12 years old,” Harris said. “I’ve always thought it was cool because they always have nice gear, nice jerseys and it’s organized well.
“Just the atmosphere around the game and learning from all the coaches will be a great experience.”
Harris officially received his Under Armour All-America jersey Thursday during a ceremony held at Higley High School. He will play in the game alongside Hamilton wideout Brenden Rice.
To Harris, receiving his jersey was a symbol of hard work not only for himself, but his family as well.
“I think it shows growth and how far we’ve come,” Harris said. “Now I just want to take it even higher and get to that next level.”
The Harris family are no strangers to athletics. In fact, it practically runs through their blood.
Sean Harris, Jason’s father, played from 1991-94 at the University of Arizona before he went on to play seven seasons in the NFL. Cha-Ron, Jason’s mother, played basketball at Arizona from 1996-98. Jalen, Jason’s older brother, graduated from Desert Ridge High School in 2017 as a three-star prospect and attended Arizona, where he saw playing time in four games as a freshman before a season-ending injury.
Since then, however, Jalen has worked his way into the starting defensive end role for the Wildcats.
The moment Harris received his jersey was one he said he has been waiting for. He’s always had high expectations for himself in both football and basketball, where he is also a highly touted recruit. Both sports hold a special place in his heart, but he admits he may be leaning more toward football when he goes off to a college of his choice next year.
Harris has football offers from several major division I schools across the country. He announced his top-6 schools in July, which includes Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Texas A&M and UCLA.
He also has several offers in basketball, including Nevada, Ole Miss and Texas Tech.
“I’m enjoying football a lot right now so we will see,” Harris said. “I’m still keeping all of my options open. I would be ignorant to be single-minded and not consider all of the schools in my top list.”
Harris transferred from Desert Ridge to Higley before his sophomore season. Since then, he’s gotten bigger, faster and stronger both on the gridiron and the court. He’s become a force in both sports he plays, using his 6-foot-8, 220-pound frame to overpower opponents in both sports.
In football, he’s become a force on a Higley defense filled with talent. Through eight games this season, Harris has 35 total tackles, 20 of which were solo and a team-high 17 for a loss. He also has a staggering 15 sacks, which leads the state among all division.
“He is very gifted, athletically,” Higley coach Eddy Zubey said. “He frees up a lot of other people on our defense. He’s quick, he has long arms and he has improved dramatically in the run game. He adds a different flavor.”
Harris has overcome injuries throughout his prep career but has been able to return faster and stronger in each instance.
Zubey said he saw a vast improvement in Harris this offseason as he was able to remain healthy and get into the weight room to prepare for his senior season.
“He works his tail off,” Zubey said. “Whether he had a basketball game the same night, he never missed a lift. That’s rare for a lot of kids now that play multiple sports. He would come in early in the morning to get his basketball shots in.
“He has his priorities in line so to see him have this success and reach this level of potential people pegged on him at an early age has been really good.”
The 2020 Under Armour All-America Game will kickoff on Thursday, Jan. 2 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 beginning at 3 p.m. local time.