UTSA’s football program is only 13 years old, but the program is old enough to house a player with legendary status.
Local San Antonio native Frank Harris first arrived on UTSA’s campus in 2017, committing to a developing program without any substantial history. Before the Clemens High School quarterback donned blue and orange, the Roadrunners were fresh off their inaugural bowl appearance, posting a 6-7 record in 2016.
Several years passed before Harris made an impact on the gridiron for his hometown team. He redshirted in 2017 and suffered season-ending injuries in 2018 and 2019, but during the COVID-impacted 2020 season, Harris emerged as the starting quarterback under first-year head coach Jeff Traylor, guiding the Roadrunners to a 7-5 season and their second bowl appearance. Everything blossomed from that point onward.
Harris took the program to another level in 2021, claiming a school record 12 wins in addition to winning UTSA’s first-ever conference championship. Those accomplishments were essentially replicated in 2022 as the Roadrunners collected 11 victories en route to their second-straight CUSA title, and Harris was showered with the conference’s MVP honors. However, that spectacular campaign was nearly the last the city of San Antonio saw of the star quarterback as he endured four leg surgeries in the 2023 offseason which nearly made him retire from the game.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be able to walk again,” Harris said. “It got to the point where I was in a wheelchair. My parents lived with me for two or three weeks. I couldn’t do anything alone. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was in a dark stage. I lost 20 pounds. I looked terrible. I told Coach Traylor I was done with football. I was gonna medically retire. It was too much on my mental. They told me if it didn’t get any better, they’d have to amputate my leg... That was definitely a dark stage for me, but God does everything for a reason. I’m reaping the benefits now and I wouldn’t be the person I am if I didn’t go through those injuries.”
Even through the most brutal injury adversity, Harris triumphantly returned for his seventh season repping the Roadrunners, spearheading their transition from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. As UTSA remains in contention for a third-consecutive conference championship, 22,096 fans flocked into the Alamodome to celebrate the San Antonio icon on senior night. Harris received a raucous applause during the pregame ceremonies and then proceeded to deliver the most outstanding performance of an already-extraordinary career.
“It’s a testament to God, battling all the injuries I went through this offseason alone,” Harris said. “I started the season missing two games and to end it the way that I ended it — you couldn’t have wrote it any better. Credit to my teammates for believing in me and never giving up on me and to the coaching staff as well, also the fans and everyone else. It was just a bittersweet moment and I appreciate everybody.”
Harris set the UTSA record for total yards of offense in one outing, posting 411 passing yards and 112 rushing yards — becoming the first player to accumulate 400 passing yards and 100 rushing yards in a single game since Houston’s Clayton Tune in November 2022. The departing senior accounted for six total touchdowns, racking up three with his arm and tacking on another three with his mobility.
But most importantly, the quarterback delivered a result which wasn’t commonplace when he arrived but became the standard during his esteemed tenure — a win. UTSA decisively steamrolled South Florida, 49-21, to improve to 7-0 in AAC play while also claiming its 16th consecutive conference victory at the Alamodome.
“I didn’t even realize I had that until somebody told me on the sideline,” Harris said of his recordbreaking night. “Just take what the defense gives you and let the game come to you. There was a lot of runs that I had to pull the ball and try to make something happen. I just went out there and scored. And then the receivers did a great job going out there and making plays, the o-line protecting me — hats off to those guys. They’re not gonna get any of the credit they rightfully deserve. I’m gonna get all the credit, but without those guys, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
Traylor inserted Harris onto the field in the early fourth quarter to deliver one last handoff. When the play concluded, Harris exited toward the sideline as his trademark smile adorned his face. The seventh-year senior received a sendoff standing ovation from the fervent San Antonio crowd, celebrated as the most iconic player in the program’s young history.
“I went to go talk to the fans. I kind of took a lap and eventually, my mom came over to get me because she said she hadn’t seen me yet so I had to go talk to my parents and then my siblings who came out to support me,” Harris said. “I just took a lap around talking to all the fans, thanking them for the support over the years, signing autographs, whatever they wanted me to do, and I just thanked them. It means a lot that I have so much support and I don’t take it for granted.”
The Roadrunners and Bulls commenced Friday night’s contest in a close affair. South Florida struck first for a 7-0 advantage and responded with another touchdown to establish a 14-7 lead. But UTSA’s defense settled into the game as Harris simultaneously caught fire on a storybook senior night. The quarterback first hit paydirt on a wide open deep ball to Devin McCuin for 30 yards and then connected with Tykee Ogle-Kellogg to knot the game at 14 apiece on a 33-yard slant. The home run plays kept coming for Harris, as he captured the first lead of the night by sending an air mail to Joshua Cephus for a 64-yard touchdown.
“He’s a good dude. He deserves it all, a man of God — he loves the game of football,” Cephus said of Harris. “I know you saw it in the stands, but it’s a little bit different when you’re on the field with him. He does some amazing things with the ball. He’s a great dude, a high-character person. Just seeing him do all what he wants to do and be humble about it is pretty amazing.”
Harris entered halftime with 308 passing yards and three passing touchdowns under his belt, additionally rushing in another score to manufacture a 28-14 lead. Cephus, the recipient of Harris’ third touchdown strike, also enjoyed a tremendous senior night. He shattered Zakhari Franklin’s record to become the program’s all-time receiving yards leader, posting 163 yards on nine receptions for the second most productive performance of an illustrious career.
“A lot of memories were just shooting through my head from freshman year all the way up until now,” Cephus said on the lead-up to the game. “The seniors had to speak this week and it didn’t really hit me until I had to speak. When I was walking up there, I almost cried just thinking about how far I’ve come, all the things that I’ve done here, all the things that I didn’t do that I should have. God is just so good.”
The Roadrunners extended their lead thanks to midgame improvement from the defense. Once South Florida attained 14 points, UTSA forced five punts and a turnover on downs in a 6-drive sequence to gain separation on the scoreboard. Fittingly, the defense was headlined by sixth-year senior Rashad Wisdom, another San Antonio native turned program legend. The sixth-year standout finished with a team-high eight tackles in one of many triumphant curtain calls on senior night.
“Me just knowing this is probably my last time here, just wanted to go out with a bang,” Wisdom said. “I definitely wish I could have got a pick, but it’s all good. I’m happy with the win. That’s the biggest thing. I just wanted to make sure we went out in the right way. I didn’t want to come out here and have me walk off the field thinking I could have given more.”
South Florida fell to 5-6 on the season with the loss, but the Bulls can attain bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018 by upending Charlotte in their home finale next week. Meanwhile, UTSA is already assured its fourth consecutive bowl game, and even though the Roadrunners stumbled to a 1-3 start in non-conference play, they have aspirations for another postseason matchup the first week of December.
By defeating Tulane on Black Friday, UTSA can clinch its third-consecutive conference championship appearance, and if the cards fall right, possibly host the AAC Championship Game at the Alamodome. And perhaps Harris’ storied time at his beloved stadium isn’t done if that scenario comes to fruition.
“That’s what makes it more special is just how far they’ve come and just (Harris’ story),” Traylor said. “He’s had like 12 surgeries or 10. It’s ridiculous. He’s as low as he’s ever been in the month of May. That’s what makes it so special is all we’ve overcome. We’re a shell of ourselves honestly, but we’re still fighting. We’re still in there. Healthy teams don’t win championships. Tough ones do.”