Harris: "They Can Count on Me"

Mike Harris, the sophomore offensive lineman, talks about his up and down journey since last season when he started five games, but then slid on the depth chart after sitting out spring practice. He's now back again, competing to start...

Offensive tackle Mike Harris has been working in with the starting offensive line in the last few days. Harris missed all of the spring because of a fractured bone in his right foot after starting five games in 2008.

Do you think the coaches know what you can do?

"The coaches, they know because of last year I can play right tackle, they know they can count on me. I'm just getting myself ready, because we have a big season ahead of us. We have a lot of high expectations, especially for the offensive line trying to show the world that we have improved and hopefully we can have some good outcomes at the end."

Do you feel like missing the spring set you back, as far as a starting point with the coaches?

"A little bit. They had me at second string and third string, but I just gradually worked my way back into a starting spot just with hard work. It was hard not being in spring practice, just a lot of rehabbing got me to where I'm at. Hopefully this season I can help the team out."

Are you back to where you were, or beyond that?

"I'm definitely beyond that. I'm a lot stronger. My feet are a little bit better. I just have to bring it all together to help this offense out and that's what I'm going to try to do."

How close are you to getting with the first offense?

"I'm just thankful that the coaches are counting on me. I just want to show them and show my team that they can count on me. This is going to be a very serious year for the program – we have to try to get back into the spotlight, so that's what I'm trying to do … hard work and preparation, getting ready to play."

Last year it was tough to show anything with all the injuries. How much more advanced is the group with a second year with the same coach, everybody healthy...

"It's a lot better. We're tighter as a group and as individuals. We worked hard in the offseason. We've grown. We have a lot of chemistry now. We're just trying to prove to our critics in the media that this offensive line can get the job done and that's what we're going to try to do starting Sept. 5. It's going to be an exciting year. Watch out for us."

Last year if you were healthy, you were a starter. This year there's actual competition. How has that helped?

"It's helped a lot, knowing that there's guys that can play at your position and also knowing that you've got to go day in and day out, give it 100 percent each play, or another guy can come in and take your spot, so definitely that competition factor helps."

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