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Shooting victim was S. Phila. football star in '04

As a star quarterback at South Philadelphia High School, Jalil Harris could throw. But if he saw an opening, he wouldn't hesitate to run.

As a star quarterback at South Philadelphia High School, Jalil Harris could throw. But if he saw an opening, he wouldn't hesitate to run.

"He was like a Randall Cunningham or an early McNabb," said coach Stanley "Stosh" Tunney. "He liked to run the option. He liked to have the football in his hands at all times."

In 2004, Harris led the Rams to their first victory in 15 years over St. John Neumann High. "It was like winning the Super Bowl for us," Tunney said.

On Monday night, Harris was with friends, watching an NBA playoff game on a TV set up on a step in the city's Point Breeze section.

A group of men came walking down South Bucknell Street. One pulled a gun, said Jalil's father, Gregory Harris.

At the sound of gunfire, Jalil scrambled. But he couldn't outrun the bullet that struck him in the back.

"My son was the only one who got hit," Gregory Harris said.

Harris, 22, was pronounced dead at 10:50 p.m. of a single gunshot wound at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, police said.

"I don't think they were shooting for him," said Gregory Harris, who lived with his son two blocks away at 24th and Oakford Streets. "They were shooting for anybody."

Police had no suspects on Tuesday, nor a motive for the shooting.

Harris' killing is the third to hit the South Philadelphia High football community in less than a year.

Tyrell Smack, 17, was gunned down in July a week before football camp started and he was going to begin his first season with the team. Tyree Parks, an 18-year-old defensive tackle, was shot Jan. 22, the day he learned he'd won a football scholarship to Bloomsburg University. Police have made no arrests in either slaying.

"And now Jalil," Tunney said. "It's just a shame. He was a great kid and a good athlete."

As a senior at South Philadelphia High, Harris was named to the Coaches' All-Public Team for the Southern Division in 2004. He was also a starting point guard on the school's varsity basketball squad. As a freshman and sophomore, he played quarterback at West Philadelphia High, where his father was a line coach.

After graduation, he attended Cheyney University but did not qualify for the school's football team. After a year, he dropped out to take a break, his father said.

"He had gone straight through, and some kids need it after 12 years," said Gregory Harris, a retired math and computer science teacher.

His father said Harris wanted to return and study textiles, with the intention of becoming a designer.

Last week, he had been scouring the help-wanted ads and knocking on doors looking for work. He hadn't had much luck, his father said, but was determined to find a job.

"He just wanted to be able to earn some money and pay his way," Gregory Harris said.

A funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the United Muslim Masjid, 801 S. 15th St.