NFL Draft Prospect Jacory Harris Breaks Down Miami’s Keys to 2012, How to Read Coverage and Provides Some Words of Wisdom

Jacory Harris has had his ups and downs over the years at Miami, but overall his undeniable talent has landed him in NFL consideration.  It may not be clear which system or team he fits with, but whoever gets him will be lucky to have him on their team.  He is talented, smart, diligent, unselfish, grounded and really, really likable.  For those who have asked, he is the guy I would like to watch football with…as just friends, of course (ladies, this is important, so see below).

The CFB Girl:  There are many different styles of quarterbacks out there today—how would you describe your style?

Harris:  I’m a pocket-passer, who also has the athleticism to run.  So it always poses threats on defenses that I can either throw or I can run the ball.

The CFB Girl: What NFL player are you most similar too?

Harris: Donovan McNabb.  He is a role model of mine—someone who I would like to be like.  I kind of shaped my game around his. [McNabb, of course, was the long-time Philadelphia Eagles QB who took his team to a Super Bowl against the Patriots in 2004, although they lost. He played college football at Syracuse, where he also played on the basketball team for two years]

The CFB Girl: You had three different offensive coordinators at Miami.  Which system did you prefer?

Harris: The one I just recently was in with quarterback coach, Jedd Fisch, the offensive coordinator here.  He gave me the opportunity to pretty much manage and control the offense myself so I could put my team in the best situation possible.

The CFB Girl: How does that make a difference when you get to call the play as opposed to when it is coming from the sideline?

Harris: I get up to the line and I can see what coverage, what blitz or whatever defense is going to be run.  And it gives me the opportunity that if we’re going to be in a play that might be stopped by the defense that they’ve got in front of us, I have the opportunity to change it and put us in the right situation.

The CFB Girl: How do you read that?

Harris: That’s why you have to watch film.  People tend to do the same things over and over again so you can see different tendencies. So take Saftey #26, whenever they run Cover 1, he would always stay back first and walk down late.  So when you see that in a game, you know that he did this on film, so this is what they’re going to run.  Once you start noticing little things like that it helps you a lot.

The CFB Girl: Can you expand on what that means with the stay back and walk down late?

Harris: He can sit back at his regular safety position, and they can really be playing Cover 1, but they’re showing two safeties [Cover 2].  And then at the last minute, you might see him leaning on his toes. And you can be like, okay, he showed on film that when he leans on his toes at the last minute he is going to come down and cover the tight end [i.e., move from Cover 2 to Cover 1, which means the tight end is no longer free like the quarterback might have thought, but the wide receiver who is deep down the field might be open instead].

The CFB Girl: That’s incredibly detailed…

Harris: Yeah, you gotta look at everything.

The CFB Girl: Your efficiency really improved your senior year—other than the play calling change, was it a result of a different offense?

Harris: It wasn’t a different offense really.  Because I think all of the offenses were the same, but they were just called different. We just had different ways of doing things and I had the opportunity, like I said, to manage it myself, so I didn’t put myself in a situation I wasn’t comfortable with.  So if I see something that is wide open, I can change it and run that.

The CFB Girl: How did all of the scandals and suspensions impact the team [8 players were suspended for the season opener against Maryland]?

Harris: It impacted the team a lot because we actually lost our first game because most of the guys, we weren’t playing.  It was a tough situation, but we fought through and we had an opportunity to come back and we did what we had to do.

The CFB Girl: If you could change anything about that NCAA what would it be?

Harris: The gift rule.  We may not be getting a lot of benefits.  But we can’t even accept a call from a booster. We can’t accept a meal.  We might be hungry!  But I UNDERSTAND where they are coming with the rule because some things can be taken out of hand and you could have kids driving around in Ferarri’s and stuff.  But I think the rule is too tight?

The CFB Girl: So you think there is a balance somewhere in the middle there?

Harris: There should be an in-between where you can accept gifts, but up to “this” limit.

The CFB Girl: Miami has so much talent every year—why doesn’t that always translate into wins?

Harris:  Selfishness.  Start playing as a team and not try to be individuals and not try to just get yours.  If everyone just came together and played as a team, we could have the best team in the nation year in and year out.  NO doubt about it.

…I wouldn’t really say that anyone is selfish on purpose.  When you come to UM, you see all of the guys that have played before us and they were great players and you just want to be like those guys.  Some people may try to do too much by themselves rather than just play within the system and play as a team.  Not really saying that anyone is doing something purposely.

The CFB Girl:  What does Stephen Morris need to do next year to ensure this offense is successful, assuming he has the job?

Harris:  All he has to do is just be himself and continue being a leader. Because he has all of the ability in the world—he has a strong arm, he is a smart kid and as long as he just plays within himself in the system and leads this team, I think everyone around him will come to him and they will make a good run.

The CFB Girl: What is the key for Miami in 2012?

Harris:  As a whole, the offensive line.  Because everything starts with them.  Without them, you really don’t have a play.  As long as they step it up and protect the quarterback, the quarterback can get the ball to the running back or deliver the ball to the wide receiver.

Jacory Harris and Orlando Franklin (also a friend)

The CFB Girl:  What shape are they in for next year?

Harris:  We lost two guys, but other than that, it’s a bunch of guys who have played.  So they are coming together and they are going to gel and I think they are going to do really well.

The CFB Girl:  As a participant in the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine was there anyone who was interesting or who you really enjoyed meeting?

Harris:  I would have to say RG [Robert Griffin III, slated to go #2 overall in this year’s draft].  He was pretty cool guy.  It surprised me.  He is a guy who can handle it—winning the Heisman.  Sometimes people have egos and they may come off as arrogant, but me and him clicked right away and as soon as I met him, he was a great guy, a wonderful guy and I wish him nothing but the best because he deserves it.

The CFB Girl: You mentioned in an interview at the Combine that at this point the most important things you could focus on were to prepare the right way, stay mentally focused and physically take care of yourself—so how do you do those things?

Harris;  Just working out extra hard in the weight room.  Making sure I take care of my body the right way and getting treatment.  Watching a lot of film—make sure I am mentally sharp on everything so I can be prepared and I can be at my best when I go for workouts for teams.

The CFB Girl: Are you in the best shape of your life?

Harris:  I wouldn’t say best shape of my life, but I’m in shape.  Because working with Coach [Andreu] Swasey over these past fours years, I’ve been in the best shape of my life with him.  We were in crazy shape at the University of Miami[that’s not the first time we’ve heard that name…Colin McCarthy  also talked to us about Swasey]

The CFB Girl:  That’s right, didn’t you say once that you could be a track team or something?

Harris:  Yeah, we would be a cross country team.

The CFB Girl: What types of questions did they ask you at the Combine?  Anything that stood out?

Harris:  It wasn’t anything that stood out.  Things about football,,, about your family…do you have a girlfriend? Do you have a wife?  Simple things like that and then we went onto football.  It was nothing off the wall because I haven’t done any off the wall things in my life, so it’s not like they can ask me questions like that.

The CFB Girl: What do you think the biggest challenge/adjustment to the NFL is from college?

Harris: The speed.   Now you’re going against the fastest at every position.  In college you’ll have the one fast guy on the team.  Now you have the fastest corner, the fastest linebacker, the fastest d-end [see defensive backs and other positions].  And you have to make sure you’re on point for everything so you have to make sure you’re mentally prepared so you can stay one step ahead of the game.

The CFB Girl: There was some tragedy in your life—would you be willing to discuss that and how it impacted you, especially in light of the recent sentencing? [Harris’s childhood friend, who he knew since he was three and considered to be his “brother” died six years ago.   The person who killed him was recently sentenced to life in prison.]

Harris:  I don’t know that I can say I’m glad it happened, even though it had to happen.  I’m not a guy who holds grudges or anything so I live my life everyday just positive and I Just pray for that person and his family for what they’re going through right now.  That’s some serious stuff.  I had to go through the same thing with my cousin when he went to jail so I know what his family is going through, but with the way the law is and what he did, he has to suffer consequences so I will just pray for him and wish the best.

The CFB Girl: And finally a question seeking some advice because I have a lot of women readers.  You said on twitterYou can’t just be friends with every girl. The majority of them don’t know what just friends mean. Finding that out slowly but surely!

Harris:  [Laughing]…y’all really look at our twitters…

The CFB Girl: So please direct this answer to my female readers– what does it really mean to be “just friends?”

Harris: [Still laughing]…it means just friends, nothing else, no benefits. Just keep it a nice, mutual friendship like you would like a boy.

The CFB Girl: So are a lot of people trying to get benefits?

Harris:  I wouldn’t say a lot, but it can get like that and you can confuse the two.

It’s educational to see how life imitates football…or is it the other way around? Just like in football, people often disguise what they’re really thinking.  But could it be if we paid more attention to a guy’s feet, we might know what he is thinking? I’m joking (kind of).  All that aside, Jacory Harris has a lot of wisdom for someone who is just starting out in the “real world.”  He’s a smart guy and I would want him on my team any day.