Shedding Blockers … and Laziness

Once the best high school athletes in the state of Wisconsin, freshman defensive end Shelby Harris knew the transition to college would be tough. But learning from one of the best defensive ends in the country and going against one of the top offensive lines in the nation, Harris has disregarded his bad habits and has improved his arsenal during his year on the scout team.

MADISON - Watching defensive end O'Brien Schofield when he was a dominant pass rusher in high school, freshman Shelby Harris was in awe of the now senior's talents on the football field and couldn't wait to get to campus to start picking his brain.

During the six months Harris has been on campus, the Schofield' nuggets of knowledge Harris have not gone to waste.

"OB has helped me a lot, especially since I didn't play a lot of defensive end in high school," Harris said. "He's helped me out with certain technique things and certain moves that some people have trouble stopping. He's a great teacher and a good person."

The biggest thing that Schofield has rubbed off on Harris is the work ethic and dedication to the craft, especially since Harris has been earmarked as one of the many underclassmen that will be counted on to fill the senior's role in harassing opposing offenses next season.

When he was winning two state championships for Mequon Homestead High School, Harris, the first member of UW's 2009 signing class in February 2008, was the biggest guy on the field, allowing him the luxury to, ‘take plays off because (he was) the better athlete.' That notion was quickly dismissed when he tried rushing the passer and was flattened by UW's massive offensive line.

"Going against Josh (Oglesby) or Gabe (Carimi), you have to step your game up or you'll be crushed," Harris said. "I was recruited to play football here, so I can't take a play off here. It's hard going from a starter to be a scout team player. In the end you learn that you are helping out the team and that if it's good for the team, it's good for me because my time will come sooner or later."

Despite fighting off a nagging shoulder injury, Harris has improved his weight to 248 pounds, has increased his maximum weight on the squat (Harris estimates roughly 75-100 pounds more than high school) and the moves in the pass-rushing repertoire thanks in part to the works of Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Herbert.

"Herb's lifts are good for you," Harris said. "You feel good after you're done because it feels like you got a great workout. It shows that everyone is getting bigger and bigger and your game gets better and better."

The results can and can't be seen in other members of Harris' signing class. While fans have grown accustomed to the acrobatic plays of linebacker Chris Borland or the emergence of running back Montee Ball, many of Harris' freshmen teammates have bulked up their frame in preparation for next season.

Spending countless hours on scout team, the film room and the weight room with guys like Jordan Kohout, Pat Muldoon and Tyler Dippel, Harris feels the bond is something that can translate to them having success on the field in the years to come.

"Everyone gets along and everyone is friends," Harris said. "It's seriously like we've become more and more as a family everyday and that's the way it's supposed to be. In the end, it's going to be good to have your family on the field with you."

With Wisconsin's defensive line losing three senior starters (Schofield, Dan Moore and Jeff Stehle) and two backups (Dan Cascone and Jordan Hein), it goes without saying how important these two weeks of bowl practices are to UW's young defensive line in hoping to catch the eye of defensive line coach Charlie Partridge.

"Bowl prep is very big just because everybody is leaving and this is the chance to get a lot of developmental stuff, to show where you stand next year and how good you can be," Harris said. "It puts names into the depth chart for next year. I am working my tail off in the weight room and in practice to get my name on the depth chart for next year."

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