VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Sophomore Cornerback Myles Harden made a quick name for himself at USD as a freshman in the 2021 spring season, and has since turned himself into not only a marquee player on the Coyotes defense, but one of the top defensive players in the country.

After a standout career for Miramar high school in Florida, Myles Harden would ultimately continue his football career at USD, with former Coyotes assistant Abdul Hodge serving as his lead recruiter.

“Coach Hodge built the relationship with me and my parents. That meant a lot to us and I wanted to go somewhere where I was wanted,” Harden said.

Harden wouldn’t come to Vermillion by himself though, with high school teammate Josiah Ganues also committing to the Coyotes.

“It played a big factor because I’m from Miami and going all the way to South Dakota by myself, and with Josiah here, it made it much easier,” USD Sophomore Cornerback Myles Harden said.

The South Florida native quickly made a name for himself in Vermillion, starting all 4 games as a true freshman.

“He did a great job learning the playbooks, studying the route combinations and learning what to do in the defense. I think he executed in practice which gave him the opportunity to get in early and play on the field,” Defensive Backs Coach Taylor said.

A constant in Harden’s three-year career has been his ability to tackle, ranking 4th on the team in total tackles this season despite missing one game.

“We really don’t recruit just corners, or just safeties, but defensive backs with big skillsets that we want to use in a lot of different ways. Myles is playing everything from corner to nickel to dime, and he’s got a skillset that can do all of those jobs,” Defensive Coordinator Travis Johansen said.

But perhaps his greatest ability, is one that can be simply explained.

“See ball, get ball. That’s what my coaches tell me and I go out there and do it,” Harden said.

Harden leads the country in forced fumbles with 4, and has also tallied 3 interceptions in 6 games.

“When they’re in that contact, they’re not afraid of missing tackles, or afraid of doing that, they want the ball back. Some guys just have it like that. We preach it, we push it, but he’s got a different level of that. Somehow, someway he continues to get it out and hopefully that continues,” Johansen said.

Harden has been named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch list, which recognizes the top defensive player in the FCS. He missed last week’s game against Southern Illinois with an injury, and Bob Nielson wouldn’t confirm if he’ll play this Saturday against Youngstown State.