Arkansas defensive tackle Marcus Harrison looks at this week's Senior Bowl as more than a football game. He sees it as an opportunity to let NFL coaches know that the off-the-field incidents he was involved with during his college days are behind him.
"I'm pretty much letting them know what happened and the mistakes that I made, because they were just mistakes," Harrison said. "If you hear the charges, they sound pretty bad. But when you understand what went on, it's understandable."
Harrison had his chance to state his case to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday night as he sat down for 30 minutes to talk with a Bucs scout and a high-ranking team official. Harrison could not remember the official's name, but the description sounded like general manager Bruce Allen or pro personnel director Mark Dominik.
"If I see him I'll know it because of the length of the conversation," Williams said.
Harrison (6-foot-3, 310 pounds) at the moment is considered a sixth-round pick by some draft scouts. Scout.com ranks Harrison as the No. 14 interior defensive lineman in the draft.
The off-the-field incident that concerns teams was his arrest on Aug. 24 for one count of possession of a controlled substance. He was accused of having an ecstasy pill and marijuana in his vehicle after a traffic stop by Fayetteville, Ark., police. Then-Razorbacks head coach Houston Nutt suspended Harrison for one game.
According to the Associated Press, having a case placed in drug court, which provides sentencing alternatives, requires defendants to serve at least nine months of intensive court-monitored treatment. Charges are dismissed if the defendant successfully completes treatment.
Harrison said he understands that he'll be spending most of this week trying to set the record straight about the incident, and that included his conversation with the Bucs.
"(I was) trying to clear everything up," Harrison said.
Harrison's size and versatility could provide the Buccaneers with another option on a defensive line filled with versatile ends and tackles. Harrison was slowed in 2007 by a knee injury and a move to end in the Razorbacks' 4-3 defense. In fact, Harrison had offseason surgery on his ACL.
But in his final season with the Hogs Harrison picked up his play in the season's final games. He made 72 tackles, had 5 ½ tackles for loss, 1 ½ sacks and 7 quarterback hurries.
Harrison said he wants to show teams that he has skills against the pass, but the run is where most teams project him to be a factor in this draft. During his first day of practice with the South team Harrison showed he had the leverage to take on guards and centers inside, as the 49ers coaching staff used him as a nose tackle in a 4-3 set (the Niners usually play a 3-4).
Tampa Bay could use more girth up front, as they ranked just 17th in the NFL in 2007 defending the run.
Harrison found the weigh-in on Monday, in which he had to strip down to his underwear, a "new experience." But he seems prepared to not only have his measurements taken but also talk about his past, if it means a new job come April.
"Anything to get a shot at the NFL," Harrison said. "Whatever they'll ask me to do, I'll do."
Matthew Postins covers the Buccaneers for BucsBlitz.com and the Charlotte Sun-Herald in Port Charlotte, Fla. An award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he appears frequently on Scot Brantley Show from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WHBO 1470-AM in Tampa-Clearwater.