Aug. 30, 2011
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — He’s like a bolt of lightning.
In the blink of an eye, he flashes and then is gone a moment later. It’s quick, but the damage has been done.
Florida State’s Mike Harris plays the game of football quietly. He’s that bolt of lighting. You don’t hear or see him until he strikes and shocks the opposing offense.
Seminoles.com Senior Writer
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“All he does is make plays,” FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “For a ratio of playing the game to production, he may be as productive of a guy as we have on our football team. He’s very instinctive and can be a very good cover corner. He can play the nickel situation and can blitz and gives you a lot of diversity in that position. I think he’s just an extremely good football player and an extremely good special teams player.”
Harris, the senior cornerback and out-of-nowhere defender from a season ago, doesn’t get a lot of publicity because of his quiet demeanor. He also plays in a secondary that features two guys by the name of Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. Reid has the bulldog attitude and the strut to go along with his through-the-roof confidence. Rhodes has the freakishly long arms and other-worldly upside.
Harris doesn’t have Reid’s swagger. He doesn’t have Rhodes’ unique size.
What he does have is the fundamental aspect of the game locked down.
“Michael Harris is the best defensive back we have fundamentally and technically-sound, period. Hands down,” starting safety Lamarcus Joyner said. “That’s a great thing. For him to be someone that plays with me, I see this and I look up to that guy.”
That’s high praise for someone that didn’t start a game for the Seminoles last year, in what was Harris’ first season in Tallahassee.
And that’s primarily where the lack of publicity comes from. Sure, the duo of Reid and Rhodes pulls the spotlight away like some sort of magnetic force. But there’s a misconception that Harris is not on their same level.
Defensive coordinator/secondary coach Mark Stoops is quick to squash that notion.
“Mike Harris is not a backup,” Stoops said. “He is on the starting lineup with Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes. He’s too good of a football player and he’s earned his right for playing time . He’s extremely versatile and Mike is becoming more and more consistent. I am very encouraged by the level at which Mike plays.”
That sentiment was echoed on Monday when an updated depth chart was released. Harris is now listed as the starter at boundary cornerback — ahead of Rhodes.
Harris came to FSU last summer after starring at El Camino Community College in California. As one of the top junior-college prospects in the nation, he had his pick from a bevy of Division I programs that wanted to add his defensive talents.
He ultimately chose the Seminoles over programs such as Alabama, Oregon, Florida, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Michigan.
“Florida State had great tradition,” Harris said. “It was a lot closer to home after being away in California for two years. To be able to come back and be a little closer to my family was a great thing.”
Another added bonus for Harris was the opportunity to play for Stoops, who has a long history of mentoring talented defensive backs.
Harris flourished in what was both his and Stoops’ first year in Tallahassee last season. With fall camp nearly over and game week officially here, year No. 2 for both should be even better.
“The defense is going to be a lot better this year,” Harris said. “Another year under Coach Stoops should make me a better player overall. I am looking forward to making more plays and just being that much more comfortable in the defense.”
Watch out for lightning.