J-Shun Harris has a 'heart of a lion'

J-Shun Harris may only be 5-foot-8 but he believes he can hang with any receivers that are much taller than him. He says he possesses a heart of a lion and it's something he initially saw in Shane Wynn and now has become part of his own mentality.

When J-Shun Harris was in high school, he admired from afar the game of Indiana wide receiver Shane Wynn.

He was amazed at how well the 5-7 Wynn could do at the college level. By the time Wynn had left IU, he had amassed 189 catches for more than 2,000 yards and had 20 receiving touchdowns. He was also a major contributor as a punt and kickoff return man.

But for Harris, who is 5-8, 170 pounds himself, it simply was the affirmation that all of his dreams could indeed come true.

“It just gave me nothing but hope to understand that a guy with similar attributes and similar size is out there doing it,’’ Harris said. “He had a heart of a lion and he’s not scared of anything. Watching Shane in high school I adapted that heart of a lion attitude so now I just come out here like I’m 6-2 or any other big guy that they want to label. I just come out here and work hard.’’

When you get Harris going and talking about his abilities, the ‘heart of the lion’ reference comes up several times. In an interview with him on Tuesday following IU spring football practice, he dropped the phrase six times – in three minutes.

So just what exactly does that ‘heart of a lion’ tag mean to Harris?

“It means you may be a little guy but you can have a big heart,’’ Harris said. “I saw a picture on Google and it had a taller guy with a mini heart and the shorter guy had a huge heart. That’s what I mean by heart of a lion. We’re not scared of anything when we go out there and compete. We’re like everyone else.’’

The wide receiver from Fishers (Ind.) High School more than held his own as a freshman for the Hoosiers last season. He had 18 catches for 168 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also had 19 kick returns, too.

Harris said it was a good start but he wants so much more.

“I feel like I could have done a lot more and a lot of things better to help out the team,’’ he said. “I want to focus on my route running, understanding the defenses and just going out there and relaxing and having fun with it.’’

Like all of his offensive teammates, Harris said it’s great to have quarterback Nate Sudfeld in the backfield again this spring. But he was quick to point out that he thought Zander Diamont did a good job for the Hoosiers last year in Sudfeld’s place, too. He said when Diamont struggled the onus was more on the receivers than the quarterback.

“Last year Zander was doing his thing and we were just coming up short as receivers,’’ Harris said. “We were not focused on the ball. Zander went out there and played the way he was supposed to play but we just didn’t help him out toward the end of the season.’’

For now, Harris is looking forward to improving every day during spring ball. He said he wants to contribute to IU football in any way that he can.

“If that’s as a receiver, that’s great but if it’s in the punt or kick game that would be fine, too,’’ Harris said. “I just want to help my team. I want to go out there with a heart of a lion and show people what I can do.’’

There’s that heart of a lion again.

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