Harris building confidence as big role nears

True freshman Matt Harris looks to be key player as questions continue to surround Northwestern's secondary.

Cornerback hasn't exactly been Northwestern's strong suit this season.

That, of course, has been the topic surrounding the football team after starting cornerback Daniel Jones went down in the Wildcats' season opener against California. In stepped Dwight White, who immediately gave up big plays against the Bears and watched teams test him all season.

Enter true freshman Matt Harris, who's getting into the flow of things after being concussed in the season opener.

He's now looking to be a key player in the newfound cornerback battle as the season progresses. Last week against Maine, he came onto the field after White surrendered a long reception following a double move. Other starters came off the field soon enough, though, as Northwestern let second-string players gain experience late in a 35-21 win.

But whether he's seeing valuable playing time or not, there are a few things Harris needs to overcome before he's squaring off against BCS title contenders in conference play during the coming weeks—the playbook being one of them.

"Mentally, I never thought you could run that many plays in a game or have that many different options to run," Harris said.

His teammates have helped during the transition from high school ball to the Big Ten. He credits them for making the jump as smooth as it can be, he said.

"We study a lot together, just look out for each other and make sure when we're on the field we're on key with each other," Harris said.

With that, the upcoming bye week is coming at the right time to help Harris, as he and other reserves saw the majority of the practice field on Tuesday.

It's a far cry from what he thought this season would be (as a likely redshirt), but after finding out that he'd see the playing field shortly before the opener, he's trying to make the best of it.

"The coaches pulled me into their office about two weeks before (the game against Cal) and told me I'd have the opportunity, and if I make the most out of it, then I'll get some playing time," Harris said. "That's what I try and do out here every day."

Only time will tell if that effort leads to a starting spot at cornerback.


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