Happy Harriott

Claude Harriott wanted to make it to training camp by the first day of practice. When the "go ahead" call came from his agent after a four-year contract was hammered out Monday, the rookie is eager for his chance to get back out on the field.

"That's where I belong right now," Harriott said. "I'm ready to play."

The worth of the contract is still being determined, but the 147th overall choice had been confident that he wouldn't miss any time in Bourbonnais, it was a relief when all of the details fell into place.

"The waiting and hoping was mostly a matter of faith," Harriott said. "It's the same kind of feeling that you can get on draft day. You are pretty confident that things will come out all right but it's difficult until you know for sure. Now I can relax and get on with things:

Getting on with things for Harriott right now means sorting clothing, finding his duffel bags, and deciding how much he needs to bring to Bourbonnais.

"I'm running around like crazy," Harriott said during a phone interview this afternoon. "You can hear all the excitement in the background. My friends and family are here helping me get organized. It's pretty chaotic in my house right now."

Before the contract was signed, Harriott's greatest concern had been that he would lose ground in the fiercely competitive battle at his position.

"I'm a rookie and you can be certain that I don't want to miss a minute of the instruction that will be going on down there," Harriott said. "There are some top guys going at DE. I want to be right there in that mix. To do that, I need to be in camp on time."

But is he aware that training camp can be a punishing environment of two a day practices in searing heat and stifling humidity?

"Come on now, it can't be that bad," Harriott said. "Remember, I played football in south Florida during grade school and high school. I'm so excited right now that I'll play in any conditions."

Harriott has spent the past month focusing on his agility and going over the playbook.

"I wrote down everything that I could remember as soon as the on field practices concluded several weeks ago," Harriott said. "That way, I'd know what to be working on. I've been paying attention to my strength and my stamina. My weight and my speed are good. I want to come into camp in the best possible shape."

Harriott is accustomed to a rough and tumble style of football. As a two-year starter at DE for Pittsburgh, he led the team junior year with a career high 9.5 sacks and was named the Panthers Most Valuable Defensive Lineman. He's hoping that those skills translate well to the Bears newly renovated defense.

"That's my plan," Harriott said. "I feel that my strengths will fit in well with this system. Bryan Knight, who I knew from Pitt, has been talking to me ever since he joined the Bears. He's given me an edge, I think. I have a pretty good idea of what to expect and how to fit in."

Knight has also offered advice to Harriott on what to bring to Bourbonnais.

"Creature comforts," Harriott said. "Bryan is big on those. I haven't really had time to get everything together yet, but I'm sure I'll be bringing some kind of TV and probably my stereo as well. Now that I know I'm going to be leaving right away, we'll talk about exactly what I should be packing."

Has Knight also explained that, as a rookie, Harriott might not have an abundance of leisure time for television viewing during training camp?

"Yes, he has mentioned something about that," Harriott said. "I'm OK with the schedule they have planned for us. The weight room, the practice field, team meetings, bring it all on. I am looking forward to this. This is what I've hoped for all along. Even the rookie hazing. It's all good."

NOTE: Defensive tackle Tommie Harris (1st round, 14th overall), wide receiver Bernard Berrian (3rd, 78th) and quarterback Craig Krenzel (5th, 148th) are the three remaining Bears draft choices that are unsigned.

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