Reflections with Damien Harris (Part 1)

In part one of our chat with Berea (KY) Madison Southern RB Damien Harris, the 2015 Michigan commit recaps his phenomenal junior campaign, discusses the growth of his game, and recaps his experience in Ann Arbor last weekend for the Michigan /Ohio State match-up.

Sam Webb:  I know you had a big season and that’s where I wanted to start.  You had big goals headed into this year, talk about reaching them and how you performed this year.

Damien Harris “I would like to think I played pretty good.  Going into the season, me and Coach Clark had set a lot of goals.  We had set a lot of team goals as well as individual goals.  It was just so much hard work that I put in with my coaches, staying not just during practice but coming in early or staying there late.  It was just a product of hard work, determination in practice, the weight room and stuff like that.  A lot of the things that I accomplished on the field, I can’t take too much credit for it because there are ten other guys with me.  I like to give a lot of credit to my teammate, my offensive line, our receivers that block out for me on the edge.  We as a team had a lot of goals going into the season.  We wanted to be the first team to end some of the losing streaks against opposing teams, making it to the region and stuff like that.  Even though we didn’t come out on top and win our ultimate goal of winning a state championship, it was still a successful season.”

Sam Webb:  Let us talk about some of those streaks and numbers.  What were your final stats at the end of the year?

Damien Harris:  “Final stats were 220 carries, 2650 something yards, 42 rushing touchdowns.  I had two receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return and a punt return for a touchdown – 46 total touchdowns. We finished 10-2.”

Sam Webb:  Talk to me about those streaks. I know you guys beat a team that you had beaten in forever. 

Damien Harris:  “We ended a streak against our two cross-town rivals, both that we had never beaten.  One of them being Rockcastle that goes way back.  We’ve played them 18 times and we were 0-18 all time.  It was just bad.  They had never come close, this team.  They would beat past teams by 40 and 50 points.  We went in and that was our first goal season, the first goal we made was to beat Rockcastle and the streak.  Everybody thought that no matter what, no matter how good our team, no matter how bad their team was or anywhere in between we were just never going to beat them because it just wasn’t meant for us to beat them.  We took pride in that and trying to end that streak.  We ended up on top 41-13.  We went up to our other cross-town rival, which is Madison Central, which is a 6A school – we only 5A.  Everybody thought they might be good, but they are not going to be able to compete with a 6A team.  It is a small town, so a lot of grew up playing each other or against each other.  It was just a rivalry renewed with ourselves.  We kind of struggled and first, but we were able to pull it together and win by a touchdown (34-27).”

Sam Webb:  When you look back on everything, I know the numbers, all the touchdowns, but when you analyze your game, where were you better this year, how did you improve?

Damien Harris:  “There were a lot of parts that I probably saw myself improve – definitely blocking, blocking for my other teammates.  It is not that I was a bad blocker before, just not that many people carried the ball before this year.  I didn’t get a chance to block that much, but this year I did a lot of blocking on the edge, lead up through the hole sometimes, blocking up the middle.  That was definitely…or even pass protecting that I think was my main thing that I improved on this season.  I feel like I made better decisions as far as bouncing outside or sticking in A gap.  I felt I was more patient this year because there was a lot of runs that I had last year that I missed A gap like on power ISO because I wasn’t patient enough.  I just bounced as soon as possible.  I stayed in the hole and just was patient this year and let blocks develop.  I think I broke more tackles this year.  Last year I tried to make a lot of people miss, but this year I tried to run through tackles instead of trying to avoid them just because I got bigger and stronger.  I was able to run through arm tackles.  If somebody took a bad angle to hit me, I was able to run through tackles.”

Sam Webb:  You made it up for the Ohio State game.  What was the experience like?

Damien Harris:  “It’s hard to explain because every game that I’ve been to after, I’ve said that’s the best experience that I’ve ever been too, but it keeps getting better and better and better.  Once again, it was just the best experience.  A lot of people expected us to get beat and beat bad.  I’m sure you hear that.  We’re playing Ohio State, they’re undefeated since Urban Meyer has been there.  We haven't been having the best season.  People expect us to come out and just lay down.  In the game, we gave them a great game and we had a shot to win.  Even though we didn’t, there were a lot of promising things on the field.  The offense was great, the offensive line played outstanding.  Just the atmosphere of the team and of the school, it is like it gets more and more amazing.  Every trip, it seems like the fans get louder every game.  It is hard to really explain the feeling you get whenever you go in there because you love the place so much.”

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