Lessons from past propelling Nigel Harris
WLB Nigel Harris has just about everything going his way as he embarks on his final season with the Bulls.
The former Hillsborough High standout was one of the first defensive players to be awarded a gray “Bull Shark” jersey for his effort in spring camp. He has been referred to as a leader by his teammates. He’s even in arguably the best shape of his playing career at 218 pounds -- 13 fewer than last season.
This time last year, however, Harris was in a much different place following a breakout sophomore campaign.
Toward the end of spring practice in March 2015, he was suspended indefinitely along with teammate Tashon Whitehurst for an undisclosed violation of team rules. It carried over into the regular season, costing Harris the first two games of the season -- including USF’s matchup at Florida State.
But instead of letting it affect him negatively, Harris said he worked to set himself straight.
“I faced some big adversity last season, but I saw it as a lesson,” Harris said Friday. “I just (kept praying)...and other people were around me. The staff helped me out. They sent me to the right people to get things situated.”
There has been no looking back since.
After rebounding to finish with 42 tackles (4 1/2 for loss) in 11 games in 2015, Harris has carried those lessons into this season. He hopes to continue setting a high standard on and off the field.
“It’s just always about having good character,” he said. “It’s always about how you come back from certain things.”
LEARNING FROM THE GREATS: Redshirt freshman OL Billy Atterbury is taking teachings from the past to help his bid to start at right tackle on Sept. 3 against Towson.
The Clearwater Central Catholic alumnus, who capped a strong spring practice by taking the top spot on the depth chart, said the leadership and advice passed down from the seniors that anchored last season’s line have helped motivate him.
“I think through camp right now and into the beginning of the season, we just have to work to build that connection that they had last year to become as good as they were,” he said.
ODDS AND ENDS: Harris said DB Devin Abraham had an interception during 11-on-11 drills in practice, which was called early due to lightning. … CBS Sports ranked the Bulls 30th in its preseason poll of all 128 Division I-A teams, second in the AAC to only Houston (14th). … Though he might be battling for a starting spot, Atterbury said he has his fellow offensive linemen beat in one competition -- bowling. “I’ll have an unlucky game, someone will have a lucky game, but I’m winning most of the time,” he said.
AUDIBLE: “Every dream starts with a vision, and Coach (Willie Taggart) had a vision. Dreams are coming true right here in Tampa, Fla.” -- Harris on what it has been like seeing USF evolve from a 2-10 team (during his freshman year) to one of the top contenders in the conference as a senior