Marques Harris: It felt really good. I was out pretty much the whole last season. I was sidelined and had to watch my teammates. It was real disappointing not being able to compete. So it felt really good, just being able to be out there and run around.
BSN: You looked great, I thought, during the first practice. How did you feel physically?
MH: Basically, since I broke my leg I've been rehabbing every single day. (CU head trainer) Steve Willard, he's been working with me personally. He's gotten me back to where I need to be. So for me going out there it's been more mentally challenging. I needed to get the kinks out and get comfortable running and cutting. But it felt pretty good. Even today, my goal is to have a better day than the last day and feel more comfortable.
BSN: How much are they going to let you do as spring progresses?
MH: I don't think there's really anything set. It just all depends on my leg. The coaches want me to do as much as I can and I want to do as much as I can. Right now I'm not doing too much tackling. But I'm still out there running around and doing everything else.
BSN: You mentioned the rehab process. What did that entail? And how long did you wear a cast?
MH: I was off my feet for two-and-a-half months. I was on crutches. I can remember, two weeks after my injury I was in the weightroom with Coach (Greg) Finnegan and (his staff), and those guys were helping me. I was on crutches so I couldn't even put my own weights on, but I was lifting and trying to keep my strength on and my weight on.
Then after that I was in the training room with Steve Willard rehabbing, one, even two times a day. It's been a long process.
BSN: When you were rehabbing, what kind of exercises would you do?
MH: It was on my leg. I worked a lot at getting my strength back. After surgery, my leg was real skinny. My quad and my calf were pretty much gone. Also, little things that you don't even think are important. Little tendons and little muscles, just working on those things too.
BSN: I don't remember you missing any games from injury prior to last year. Had you?
MH: No, I had never missed any games, or pretty much any practices until last season.
BSN: So that must have eaten away at you, being on the sidelines.
MH: Definitely. But injuries are part of the game. It happens every year, every team no matter what. And for me, all the way up until this time I was injury free. And it was even more serious because it was my senior year. And breaking my leg was a pretty serious injury. Even if I would've broken one of my bones in my leg I would've come back in a month or so. But I broke both bones. But I still believe that things happen for a reason, and me breaking my leg was for a reason. So luckily I've been able to do the things I need to do to come back for this next season.
BSN: How is your upper body strength? Are you stronger than you were?
MH: Oh yeah. This is the strongest I've been since I've been here. And this is the most I've weighed. I'm weighing about 240-242 right now. My normal playing weight's been 230. So my strength has gone up. That was kind of a positive out of this thing. While everyone was lifting three times a week, I was in there every single day. From that standpoint, I feel bigger and I feel stronger.
BSN: How close is your leg back to having all its strength?
MH: It's pretty close. If I had to guess, I'd say I'm about 85 percent right now. I think a lot of that still is mental. Once my leg is completely back it'll be stronger than my (right) leg. I don't even think I could break my left leg again. I've just got to get over the mental things. My goal is to just go out there and not even think about my leg.
BSN: Do you ever reflect back on those moments laying out there on the field before the medical people got to you?
MH: It was a pretty traumatic injury. Right when it happened, there was no doubt in my mind what it was even though I'd never done that before. But for me now, I'm over that and I try not to even think about it. I try not to dwell on the past.
BSN: Tell me a little about the new defense and how it affects you as a defensive end.
MH: For me, it's a great scheme we're playing. I know it's the spring and everybody has to learn it and we're kind of taking it slow. But it adapts to my ability more; it uses all of my abilities instead of limiting me. I'm still not able to do all the things that we have planned for later, but I can already tell by the things that we're doing that I'm using more of my abilities.
BSN: What are you talking about? Your quickness?
MH: I don't want to talk to much about it — a lot of it is new and I don't want it to be known. But as you say, my speed and my athleticism.
BSN: I know Coach (Mike) Hankwitz has said because they're bringing you along a little more slowly because of the injury that they're not doing everything with you yet that they will. Does that involve possibly playing a different position?
MH: I don't know. I know Coach Hank has a great defensive mind. And one thing I've noticed is that he's been trying to use the abilities of every person individually. I know he spent all winter along with the other coaches looking at everyone's strengths and weaknesses. And so instead of limiting them, he's trying to use each person to his ability more.
There's some things more to come up about that, but we'll just see when the time's ready.
BSN: Last question. You've been around here as a player as long or longer than anyone else. Considering all the off-field stuff that's been going on, what's the mood of the team?
MH: Since I've been here, this is one of the best winter conditioning periods that we've had. And in light of what went on, I think our team could have gone either way. We could have had guys pointing fingers and fighting or a lot of guys wanting to transfer. But those things didn't happen.
As a team we came closer together because we know what we stand for. Now we're in spring ball and are practices have been great. Our goal is to keep focused on what's important and keep working toward that.
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