With only one year of varsity football experience in high school in Texas, Harris has big-play capabilities and athleticism he hopes becomes painfully obvious soon to opposing teams.
"When I was being recruited, of course all the coaches are going to tell you that you're going to play when you get up there just see what happens and to get you to come. But I had the confidence I could play. I knew once I got up here, I was going to show everyone I could play on the next level, even thought I am a true freshman. I just came in and worked hard and did what I had to do. Next thing I know I'm playing and I'm in the rotation," Harris said.
That was no easy feat since the Cougars had 18 wide receivers vying for spots in the regular six-player rotation. And as big as high school football is in Texas, Harris said nothing prepared him for what he experienced in front of a sellout crowd at Lavell Edwards Stadium.
"When I first came out on the field (Notre Dame game), my eyes got bigger than I don't know what. I ain't never seen nothing like that before. I've have seen big crowds, but I aint seen nothing like that. It was exciting just to play in front of the crowd," he commented.
"When I play in front of big crowds, it just makes me go to another level in my game. It gets me real excited and I really enjoyed playing in front of 65,000 people -- even though I've never played in front of that many people before."
Harris feels he's grown from the experience and gained confidence because of it. "It did boost my confidence real, real, high. Ever since that first game, I got the nervousness out. Now I'm just trying to play like it's a regular game; like the crowd's not even there," Harris continued. "Of course, everybody gets butterflies before the game. But once the game gets started you forget all about that. I just like to get into the crowd and let the crowd get into me. The crowd turns me on and it brings me to another level," he said.
Having already faced some of the top cornerbacks in the country as a true freshman, Harris feels the experience has helped him develop and grow in confidence with every game.
"I have confidence in the players here," he said. "I know when I first got here, nobody respected me or didn't really know much about me - and probably didn't have much confidence that I could do anything. But with each game, I feel I get a little more respect from the coaches and players."
Harris continued, "Sometimes I feel like nobody can hold me, but I know there's some cornerbacks out there that are pretty good. Once I get in that right mindset, I feel there is nobody out there that can stop me but myself."
New to the Cougar offense, BYU coaches want to bring their talented charges along slowly to build their understanding, refine their skills, and put them into a position to succeed. It's no different for Harris.
"It's coming along real good. Jason Kukahiko, the person who's in front of me, has helped me out a lot. The other receivers have helped me out a lot and it's going real good. I'm learning the eight new plays that we put in every week for different things. I'm real, real proud that I came here (BYU), and wouldn't want to be any other place but right here."
PRACTICE NOTES AND QUOTES:
* Defensive end T.J Sitaki has moved up on the depth chart and is now playing in the rotation. He gave the BYU scout team fits disrupting plays in the backfield and giving good backside pursuit.
* Shaun Nua also put in a good day's work providing pressure from areas across the defensive line and was found often in the backfield or double teamed by running backs. Injured Manaia Brown was suited up, but did not participate in the scrimmage.
* Freshman defensive tackle Isley Filiaga had an outstanding day of practice going against the first team offense. On several occasions, Filiaga busted through the first string offensive line applying pressure to both John Beck and Matt Berry in the backfield. His sterling effort earned offensive line players an earful from BYU coaches. Filiaga was consistently double-teamed throughout the scrimmage.
* BYU's secondary, both first and second team units, had a good showing in practice under the watchful gazes and commands of coaches Bronco Mendenhall and Brian Mitchell. Defensive backs Quinn Gooch, David Tafuna and Spencer White recorded interceptions. White snagged a ball tipped by Aaron Francisco.
* Offensively, freshman running back Raymond Hudson showed excellent speed running off tackle and bouncing it outside twice into the secondary before coaches blew the whistle. Hudson appears to be reacting more naturally within the offense rather than thinking about what he has to do.
* Todd Watkins and Austin Collie where their usual impressive selves catching just about everything thrown their way, both long and short passes.
* The special teams unit was put through vigorous drills today and kicker Matt Payne was his old Mr. Automatic self again. He didn't miss a single field goal. He smiled when former BYU strength and conditioning assistant Tui Filiaga yelled out, "Hey Matt, you're still my hero."
* Redshirt freshman wide receiver Michael Reed played exceptionally well for the scout team against the first team defense. Reed was the favorite receiving target catching deep passes along the sidelines and in traffic. He also made a nice slant catch over the middle that went all the way.
* James Francisco, Aaron father who was in attendance at practice today, had the following observation: "Man, BYU's receivers are going to be really good next year. They got these two guys Watkins and Harris coming back, and that receiver (Michael Morris) who broke his ankle coming back. Now they got this guy Reed who will be playing next year. These guys are going to be good, brah."
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