Harris' long road back

As a true freshman in 2004, Darrin Harris saw plenty of time in the Washington secondary and many thought that would likely lead to a productive career with the Dawgs. Fate had a different plan though as a cracked vertebrae has limited him over the past 18 months, but he's back and making his presence felt in the Husky deep patrol.

"This spring was pretty good," Harris told Dawgman.com recently. "I felt a little pressure, but I didn't feel it to get out and perform well, I just felt it because I'm a football player and when you're a football player you want to get out there and do what you do best.

"You can't expect to come back and play right away when you sat out and haven't done anything for so long."

The long road back started when Harris was diagnosed with a cracked vertebrae in his lower right back. Had the doctors fused it, he would have never been able to play again, so he's had to manage the injury with workouts and weight training.

"A lot of stretching, crunches and training," Harris said with a laugh. "I needed to make sure the stress was taken off my back and I really couldn't run too much right away.

"Going hard like we do in camp and during the spring was pretty hard because I wasn't in the condition I needed to be. If they had asked us to do crunches, I would have been all set, because that's pretty much all I did it seemed like, but now I'm kinda getting into the flow of things again and I'm not hesitant out there and that's a big change from this past spring."

Last year, Harris wasn't apart of the Husky football team until the start of classes at the end of September and by then the team had played in four games. He said at one point he didn't know if he would ever be a part of the team again.

"Last summer was tough because I didn't get to be out there with my teammates," Harris said. "I saw them working out during camp and I went to the UCLA game and sat in the stands so I really didn't feel like a part of the team.

"At one point, early on, I didn't know if I would ever be able to play again because of the injury and how long it took to get it to the point where I could play, but I prayed and worked hard at it and it made me appreciate what I had even more."

Defensive backs coach J.D. Williams has noticed the hard work that Harris has put in. He's liked what he's seen from Harris and said he's challenging for time right now.

"Right now he's running with the second team and he's trying to close the ground on Mesphin Forrester," Williams said. "If you look back to a couple of years ago, this past spring was the first chance he's had to play some football and it's really good to have him out there.

"He did a great job in the spring and he's continued to improve and get better. He needs to get back into that game mode, but we love his abilities and he knows the system and it's just a matter of going out and playing."

Barring an injury, Harris is expected to play on all of the coverage and return units and he'll continue to fight for playing time with Forrester.

However, he'll never forget the long road back to playing and he's ready to leave that road far in the distance.

Athletic secondary impresses Williams: Even though they are young, J.D. Williams loves what he's seen from the players he has in the secondary this year.

"We've brought in some talented guys," Williams said. "As far as experience you know we are lacking there, but athletically we're very gifted.

"(Matt Mosley) is coming along. Maybe not as much as I'd like to see, but sometimes I have to go back through it and remind him of things and if you look at it, this is Matt's first camp at corner.

"Last year, when he came in here he was at running back and I really didn't get him until the first game week,when the season started and he didn't get a chance to build that foundation and then in the spring he had to work hard to get back into it and it's really an opportunity for him to really learn what we're doing and now he finally gets the full gamut of what it means to be a defensive back."

As far as the leadership of the secondary, that falls on the shoulders of Darrin Harris, Mesphin Forrester and Jason Wells.

"They have to be like older brothers to these young guys," Williams said. "Guys like Nate Willliams and Victor Aiyewa and Quinton Richardson and Vonzell McDowell they're all coming along, they just don't have a lot of experience, but you can definitely see the talent coming through and that's really a positive."

Williams also mentioned the work of walk-on corner Cory Nicol and walk-on safety Jared Fagan as two players that have really caught his eye so far during camp.

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