Nate Harris poised for big senior season

After finishing his junior campaign and first year as a Cardinal as the team's second leading tackler, middle linebacker Nate Harris is poised for an even larger role in '06. The senior visited with moments after he helped the Red team defense limit the White team to just 170 yards of total offense during Friday night's Red-White scrimmage...

Following his transfer from Dodge City Community College last spring, middle linebacker Nate Harris made an immediate impact on the University of Louisville defense. As a junior, the Miami native started 10 games and finished second on the team with 66 tackles and 11.5 tackles for a loss, while his 7 sacks was the third most by any Cardinal defender.

The senior, who garnered Big East Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors for his 13 tackles and 3 sack performance in the regular season finale at Connecticut, recorded 3.5 tackles, including one for a loss in the Red team's 49-7 win over the White team on Friday night.

Afterwards, the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Harris spent a few minutes visiting with and discussed the progress of the defense during spring practice, new leaders emerging and more.

Coach Petrino has said that the defense improved throughout spring practice, especially since the first scrimmage. With spring practice now over, how do think the defense has progressed over the past few weeks?

"We did start off slow during the first two scrimmages, but in the last couple scrimmages we came out and played better. We all came out, ran around and made plays."

The offense typically gets the headlines, does that bother the guys on defense?

"Everybody is talking about our offense. This year we are going to show the nation that we have a pretty good defense too. Everybody is talking about Elvis Dumervil leaving, but we have a lot of unknown people that can play. I'm real excited for the defense this year."

You seem to be the only linebacker that has a good hold on a starting position right now.

"Those guys are doing pretty good. With our linebacker corp we all just want to go out there and fun. We all try to help each other. Whenever you are in the game it's your time to make a play and those guys can make plays. We have a bunch of great guys at linebacker this year and when we leave there will other guys to step up."

Coach Cassity told me before the spring game that he was hoping to see a few leaders emerge during the spring game. Have you noticed new leaders on the team?

"A lot of the younger guys are stepping up. There are guys talking in the huddle and telling people what they need to do. It's real exciting for me to sit back and watch the young guys make a lot noise out on the field."

With spring ball now over, what are your summer plans?

"Get ready for Kentucky and get ready for the season. This is a big season and we're going to show the nation that we want to win the Big East Conference and be National Champions."

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