Tremendous transition

From high school quarterback to starting college wide receiver, Ajene Harris is ready for his Trojan debut.

True freshman wide receiver Ajene Harris was one of the big surprises of USC fall camp. The former quarterback at cornerback at Crenshaw High School may not have played wide receiver since Pop Warner, but that won't stop him from being in the starting lineup at that position against Fresno State.

"They just told me that the job was open, you just have to go get it," Harris said. "So I pretty much just worked hard with film and on the field."

When Steve Sarkisian released the depth chart that included Harris, Nelson Agholor and George Farmer at the three wide receiver spots, Harris didn't flinch.

"I thought the work that I put in paid off," he said. "I am not really settling on that because I know I still have to come every day ready to work. I am not really focused on the depth chart, I'm just ready to work every day."

Wide receivers coach Tee Martin has been a big factor in Harris' development.

“Yeah Coach Tee is a great couch, since day one he’s been on me and teaching me different things every day," he said. "I’ve been getting better every day mentally, in the film room, and watching film and meetings, and out here he just increases my game, just teaching me different things on the field, doing drills and individuals, and so he’s a great coach, honestly.”

Agholor, the clear leader for the receiver corps, took Harris under his wing during the offseason.

“Me and Nelson worked out a lot before camp started, so he also helped all my routes and just catching and the playbook, so learning from him is big.”

Harris is one of only three true freshmen to crack the starting lineup for the Trojans. While Harris lacks experience playing wide receiver, the coaching staff saw something in Harris that made them believe he could make the transition.

“Well last year we came over here for a 7-on-7 tournament, and I was playing quarterback and corner," he said. "So they actually got to see me play at corner, and they saw a little bit of my athleticism, so that’s basically why I’m here today.

“Everybody was shocked just to see me as a high school quarterback coming in, changing positions and making plays for the team, but it’s just all the work I’ve been putting in when I was in high school. Like after football season was over, I threw in the championship, just putting in work at receiver every day since that weekend was over and it just shows out here.”

Eighth grade, the last time Harris played wide receiver in a game, was a long time ago for Harris, but he still tried to get work in along the way.

“I messed around at practice in high school just taking receiver reps sometimes against the corners just to give them looks," he said. "I mean it’s just something that I worked on really hard throughout this offseason, honestly.

“Everyday I’m learning something new, whether it’s running my routes or breaking down better, catching a ball, everyday is something new. Because I’ve been playing quarterback, everything coming into receiver is just switching over, and running different and breaking down different and just learning different things. So I’m learning different things every day.”

The Trojans kick the season off August 30 in the Coliseum against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for all the latest news and information.

Ryan Abraham has been the publisher of USCFootball.com since 1996. You can follow him on Twitter at @InsideTroy or email him at ryan@uscfootball.com .


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