Whitt Sees Some Harris in Rookie Corner House

Davon House hasn't played a single snap on defense this season and most likely won't, but that doesn't mean the fourth-round pick has been a disappointment. Instead, if cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt can work his magic, House will develop into a big-time player.

No. 31? Check.

Long dreadlocks covering the name on the back of his jersey? Check.

From a casual perspective, it'd be easy to confuse rookie cornerback Davon House with former Packers cornerback Al Harris.

From an up-close perspective, too.

"He has very, very strong hands," cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said before the Minnesota game. "He's a lot like Al Harris. That's what he's built like. He's very strong-handed. I didn't really realize it until this week until I did a blocking drill and he put his hands on me. He can control it there. He can run, he can transition. His game's going to be more like Al Harris than anybody else's, which is a high-level game."

That's a lofty comparison for House, the Packers' fourth-round pick out of New Mexico State.

Growing up, baseball was House's love. While he played football as a kid, he didn't play it during his early years of high school. Instead, he chose to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Tyreace, who just completed his fourth season as an outfielder in the Oakland Athletics' minor-league system.

Tyreace, who is about 16 months older than Davon, convinced his brother to get back into football for his junior year at Palmdale (Calif.) High School, which turned out to be a fortuitous decision.

"Baseball is what I did and I felt like I was really good at baseball," House said. "My senior year of high school, I broke my finger so I missed half my senior season of baseball."

The injury stifled his chances to play big-time college baseball. With a limited football background, he wasn't a big-time recruit and landed at one of the worst Division I programs in the country, New Mexico State. House wound up being a big fish in the small pond. He broke into the starting lineup midway through his true freshman season and finished his career with 11 interceptions.

At 6-foot and with a history of playing press coverage in college, House fits the mold of the Packers' cornerbacks.

"He's starting to improve," Whitt said. "He's starting to get the speed that we want to play with. I told him this morning, if he continues the way he's been the last two weeks, he's going to be a very good player because he has the skill-set. He's different than Tramon (Williams), he's different than Sam (Shields), he's different than Wood (Charles Woodson)."

House, like many other rookies, saw his transition to the NFL delayed because of the lockout. With Shields out for the Vikings game before the bye with a concussion, House made his NFL debut playing on special teams.

"I think I'd be a lot better if we had that offseason, but it is what it is," House said before the Minnesota game. "I feel like I've made a dramatic improvement since coming out of college. We're 6-0, and I wish I could contribute more. But I feel like I'm part of the team now. I can finally contribute on game day and be a part of the 46(-man roster). I'm going to do my job and not try to do too much and just have fun."

With the Packers boasting one of the NFL's top cornerback trios, and with veterans Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee providing depth, Whitt hopes to spend this season fine-tuning House's game in hopes that he can contribute down the road.

"Today? No, I wouldn't do that," Whitt said when asked if House was ready. "There's still some things that he needs to improve. He can go out there and play if we had to but I wouldn't want to do that to him. I had to put Sam out there too early, but that's because we had to. I don't want to do that to him. Now, he'd go out there and compete but if I have an opportunity to polish him up before he has to go out there, he should play high-level football when he does get the opportunity to go play."

And maybe, someday, play like Harris rather than just look like him.

"I might look skinny but I feel like I'm a strong man," House said. "I can defeat blocks and am strong with tackles. It's good to be physical, especially playing the nickel spot like Charles. He's a big, strong guy. Hopefully, I can be someone like that."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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