It was clear to see from the beginning of fall practices that Orien Harris had a different attitude.
He was one of the guys leading the dancing in stretching before practice and he always had a smile on his face.
He was having fun at Miami.
Unfortunately for Orien, that was always the case.
"I think I put too much pressure on myself last year," Harris said. "I wasn't really enjoying myself."
One of the reasons he wasn't having as much fun as he would have liked was because the team suffered three tough losses in 2004. Heading into the '04 season Harris had plenty of personal goals, but realized they didn't mean anything unless the team was winning.
"I didn't like the way I was playing last year," Harris said. "It is a lot easier now. I had a lot more fun this year than in the past."
Last year, Harris finished the season with 16 unassisted tackles and 1.5 sacks.
This year, Harris has 28 unassisted tackles and three sacks. He is also fourth on the team in total tackles.
"I know by watching film on last year I wasn't showing what kind of player I am," Harris said. "I think I showed a little bit more this year of what I can do. I don't think I fulfilled my talent last year. I just got back to my roots this year of how I used to play."
Following the 2004 season Harris had off-season shoulder surgery which kept him out the majority of spring practices.
"After my surgery I stepped back and looked at what is important and what is not," Harris said.
With Harris as one of the leaders of the defense he had to step up when defensive line coach Greg Mark was fired in October after the 'Canes were 5-1.
"We just had to mature and we got a lot closer with each other," Harris said. "It was a tough situation to go through mid-season. It just showed our maturity as a team and the kind of players we have at the University of Miami."
Although Mark had a good relationship with a number of players, Harris thinks the guys handled the situation very well.
"It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would," Harris said. "We just wanted to flourish as a d-line even more."
Harris will be playing in his final game as a Hurricane, but the future is bright at defensive line.
"I think the '06 defensive line should be better than the '05 group," Harris said. "There is a lot of young talent that should step up. I don't think they should have any problems."
Christopher Stock is a Senior Editor with CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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