Harrison Hopes To Dispel Knee Issues

FAYETTEVILLE — When Marcus Harrison sits down for an interview with an NFL team, he knows what topic will come up first in the conversation.

His arrest last August for drug possession.

After that line of questioning is over, Harrison can usually predict what the next issue will be: His surgically repaired left knee.

The former Arkansas defensive tackle has accepted responsibility for the mistakes that cast a shadow over his senior season. But as he has learned during his recent visits with NFL teams, his past has a way of following him.

"That's the biggest thing I'm trying to do now, is let teams know what type of person I am and that I made a mistake and they wouldn't have to worry about that mistake being made again because it's in the past," Harrison said Tuesday afternoon.

NFL teams have put more of an emphasis on a player's character following the recent arrest of several high-profile athletes.

As a result, Harrison has spent the past few weeks traveling across the country, sitting down with NFL executives and answering all their questions about his Aug. 24 arrest for possession of two marijuana cigars and an Ecstasy pill.

The Little Rock native wants to assure teams that he's not a troublemaker and deserves to be at least a second-round pick in Saturday's NFL Draft.

"I think the only thing that's really holding me back is teams wanting to see if I'm trust worthy just because of character issues — the mistake I made earlier in the season — and then (there are) a couple of injuries I had here at Arkansas."

LSU's Glenn Dorsey and USC's Sedrick Ellis are considered the top two defensive tackles in this year's draft, but the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Harrison is vying to be the next one taken.

He's athletic for his size, and he showed during his time at Arkansas that he has a quick burst of speed and can shed blockers when focused and healthy. But NFL teams keep coming back to the questions about his character and knee.

Harrison said if it weren't for those two issues, he'd almost certainly be a top 15 pick like Dorsey and Ellis are projected.

"I think obviously the past situation is going to have some effect (on his draft status), but to know Marcus makes you realize he is a high-character guy," said Joel Segal, Harrison's agent. "He's not the first guy to make a mistake. Everybody makes ‘em, and he's ready to move on."

Harrison said he has visited with at least eight NFL teams, including the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots. Each time, a team doctor checks out his knee to make sure it's not an issue that would make him too much of a risk to draft.

Harrison tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a practice last spring, and he appeared a step slower when he returned after serving a one-game suspension for his arrest.

While Harrison said his left knee isn't fully healed, he insisted Tuesday that it feels "good" and shouldn't scare away teams on draft day.

"Every team that I've visited, or every coach that I've talked to, said they wish they could sign me like it was college," Harrison said. "But they can't. They've got to just go on what they need."

Marcus Harrison

Age: 23

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 315 pounds

Hometown: Little Rock

Notable: Harrison ranked fifth on Arkansas with 76 tackles, including 6 1/2 for loss. He also had 1 1/2 sacks and 10 pass breakups. Harrison started the season at defensive end, but the experiment didn't work out and he was moved back to defensive tackle.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories