Clear vision: David Harrison II ’10 finds success on the football field for a second time

The accomplished offensive lineman established Harrison’s Offensive Line Development (H.O.L.D), an elite offensive line development program.

David Harrison II ’10, one of the most accomplished offensive linemen in Elon football history, remembers trying not to panic post-game as he looked in the mirror. But the fact that he could barely see made his emotions run high.

It was the third game of his senior season and the Phoenix were on the road at Presbyterian College in South Carolina. On the heels of Harrison’s strong play, NFL scouts were starting to pay attention. “People had been telling me, ‘This is your year,’ and I believed it,” Harrison recalls.

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The NFL aspirations meant a tremendous amount to Harrison, an under-recruited high school lineman from Charlotte, North Carolina, who turned one transformative year at Louisburg College into four standout seasons as an Elon starter. His future appeared to be revealing itself. The guard played much of the Presbyterian game with blurred vision, but he thought little of it. It just felt like something was in his eye. And he had a history of vision issues stemming from keratoconus, an eye condition that can affect one’s sight. “After the game, I looked in the mirror and my left eye was actually gray,” the leisure and sport management major says. “It looked like a cloud was in my eye.”

Doctors informed Harrison that he had ruptured his cornea, and they later cast doubt about his future playing career. “I put so much into this dream. I had been playing football since I was 7 years old,” Harrison says. “I told them right then, ‘No way. This is my senior year.’ I told them to put a visor on my helmet and I’d play the rest of the season like that. “So, I played the rest of my senior year with one eye.”

Athletes training using Harrison’s H.O.L.D Wheel

That spring Harrison received an invitation to a St. Louis Rams rookie camp, and he felt he played well at the three-day workout. “I really thought I performed at a level where they would bring me back,” he says. But the franchise chose a player who could play tackle, not guard. A tryout with the United Football League had the same outcome.

With his playing career over, Harrison felt lost. “When you play as long as I did, football becomes your identity. And you can struggle to know who you are outside of the game,” he says. Harrison went through what he called a “depressed period” that only lifted when he found purpose back on the field. A former high school coach invited Harrison to join the staff of Hough High School in Charlotte, and the Elon standout found fulfillment mentoring young players in his hometown.

A few years later, Harrison’s career transitioned into personal training, and in 2017 he established Harrison’s Offensive Line Development (H.O.L.D), an elite offensive line development program.

His tutelage, training regimen and motivation have resulted in 18 current Division I and Division II student-athletes, several with NFL potential. Who was Harrison’s first trainee? Ahmarion McLeod ’26, a redshirt freshman on the Elon football team.

“What makes Coach Harrison a good coach, mentor and trainer is that he pushes his players to dig deep to reach their maximum potential,” says McLeod, who began training with Harrison as a seventh grader. “He understands the fundamentals of the game and knows how to convey it in a way that is receptive to each individual player.”

H.O.L.D. offers private and group instruction, in-person and virtually, to support athletes with college aspirations. Harrison is currently working on a mobile app to train athletes nationally. His ability to lead and motivate has resonated with Tony Trisciani, Elon head football coach, since their first encounter 15 years ago. In years since, Trisciani has invited Harrison to speak to his program.

“I have watched David make the people around him better since the day I met him,” Trisciani says. “He is the hardest worker in any room he walks into. Having winning habits, encouraging others and his ability to build meaningful and lasting relationships have led to his success.”

And Harrison still seeks victories — now in the business world.

A year and a half ago, he formally released his patented H.O.L.D Wheel, a detachable strength training device designed for offensive linemen. The octagon-shaped tool improves a player’s strike, teaching them to keep their elbows tight, balance their weight and hit with power. The University of Florida, the University of South Carolina, UNC-Charlotte and Elon have all purchased sets.

“To think back to my initial drawing of the wheel, and to now walk into Division I programs and see that same product in use, it means the world,” Harrison says.