Learning To Trust

Melvin Harris was impressive last Saturday in the first public scrimmage of the preseason. He was even better in the latest one this Saturday.

The 6-foot-7, 205-pounder caught three passes for 56 yards and a touchdown a week ago. At the Meet The Rebels intrasquad Saturday with an estimated 9,000 watching, Harris caught four balls for 129 yards, including a 76-yarder from Jeremiah Masoli that brought the crowd to its feet.

It was an impressive moment, and the third-year sophomore from Buford, Ga., is beginning to have more of those as time passes.

It's hard to believe that last season as a redshirt freshman, Harris only played in three games and caught just one pass for five yards. But that was then. Now he appears to have become a key to the Rebels' upcoming season, which begins Sept. 4 at home against Jacksonville State.

Harris has learned to trust

"This guy has had a camp now," said Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt. "He's such a trustable guy, really good right now."

Harris, 20 pounds heavier than when he arrived at UM (thanks to Coach Don Decker, he says) is pleased to have his coach's trust. It's one of the many things he's been aiming for and working toward since last season.

"I feel like every day I've come out with the right attitude, just trying to get better," he said. "Just trying to listen to what Coach D (Ron Dickerson) tells me every day, which is trust my hands. God has blessed me with great talent, and I use it to the best of my abilities."

His abilities were in full view on that 76-yard sprint down the field toward the south end zone as fans obviously ready for the season stood and cheered, maybe not with the fervor of a similar play in a game that counts. But they could sense there may be more of those type moments from Harris.

"I caught a slant (from Masoli)," Harris said. "Usually when I catch the slant, they (defenders) come in and so I attacked the outside and just stiff-armed one of my guys on defense and tried to take it to the house."

That he did and it was a significant play in the scrimmage. But having production like that hasn't just happened for Harris.

"I feel my confidence," he said. "I had some injuries, and my confidence wasn't where it needed to be. One day it seemed like God just turned it around for me. I started trusting my hands and trusting my speed and trusting my abilities, and let God take care of the rest. I really worked on my mental toughness this summer, running and conditioning. It's all helped me for this upcoming season. Everything's falling into place now."

Harris has become a go-to guy

Actually there were signs in the spring of his play coming around. He caught two passes for 71 yards in the Red-Blue game, including one for a 61-yard touchdown. Since then, things have only gotten better for Harris. Starting Sept. 4, he wants to see even more passes coming his way so he can help his team win games.

"It's always been my dream to play college football," he said. "I've been playing football for 15 years. To be that go-to guy is just a blessing from God. I'm glad they trust me enough to know I'm dedicated and committed to have that role on the team."

A team that's mainly known for its defense heading into the season. But Harris believes in the offense as well.

"Our offensive line has come a long way," he said. "Without them, we couldn't do what it is we can do. It starts off with that O-Line. We have great running backs. So the play-action and running the ball really open the game up for me. I feel as our whole offensive unit works together and gets better, we can be unstoppable."

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