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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Nice pick: Former Jayhawk DB Chris Harris proving to be good free-agent addition by Denver Broncos

Former Kansas University football player and current Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) celebrates after intercepting a throw from Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer in the third quarter of a game in Oakland, California.

Former Kansas University football player and current Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) celebrates after intercepting a throw from Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer in the third quarter of a game in Oakland, California.

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Last April, when former Kansas University defensive back Chris Harris tuned in to watch the final few rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft, he didn’t really expect to hear his name called.

It wasn’t.

But that turned out to be a good thing for Harris, whose agent then was able to shop around and find the best fit for the Bixby, Okla., native. With Denver showing interest throughout the spring and welcoming in a new head coach who placed emphasis on defense and versatility, the Broncos seemed to be Harris’ best option. Once the lockout ended, Harris signed a free-agent deal and went to work.

Nobody knew then that the 5-foot-10, 190-pound cornerback would go on to become a starter on defense and lead the team in tackles in back-to-back weeks during his rookie season.

Sunday, in his second straight start at nickel back for the Broncos, Harris finished with a team-best 11 tackles and also snagged a crucial interception that helped propel the Broncos to a 38-24 upset of the Oakland Raiders. The week before, in a blowout loss to Detroit, Harris finished with a team-high nine tackles.

“It felt good, definitely,” Harris told denverbroncos.com after Sunday’s game. “I’ve been working so hard in practice and getting interceptions in practice, and I’m just glad that one finally came my way.”

Fellow rookie Von Miller, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft out of Texas A&M;, acknowledged the effort of his Big 12 teammate after the game.

“Chris Harris really had a big play today,” Miller said. “He’s been ballin’ in practice all week, ballin’ in games, and it was just good to see him get a pick today, too.”

Although Saturdays have not gone well for Harris’ former KU teammates, many have taken joy from his performance on Sundays. Few, if any, have been surprised by what they’ve seen.

“I’m not,” KU senior Isiah Barfield said. “The kid works hard. I’ve known him for five years, and he’s probably one of the hardest workers I know. I knew he was gonna do it eventually, I just didn’t know it was gonna be this soon. He did an amazing job.”

Added KU coach Turner Gill: “It definitely surprises me, as far as him being the leading tackler and doing all those things. But I knew he would have an opportunity to be able to play at the next level, and I’m glad to see it. He is a very, very football-smart guy, a physical player who has some good skills, and he’s making the best of his opportunity. It’s good representation for the University of Kansas.”

Harris, a four-year starter at KU and member of the Jayhawks’ 2008 Orange Bowl team, has played in all eight of Denver’s games this season. He ranks fifth on the team with 30 tackles, third in pass break-ups, with three, and is one of two former Jayhawks currently starting in the NFL. Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib is the other.

A couple of other Jayhawks in the NFL also had big days Sunday. San Diego safety Darrell Stuckey recorded a special-teams tackle and recovered an onside kick for the Chargers, and Tampa Bay wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe hauled in a career-best 46-yard reception in the Bucs’ loss at New Orleans.

Harris and the Broncos (3-5) travel to Kansas City, Mo., Sunday to take on the Chiefs (4-4) at Arrowhead Stadium.

Comments

Ryan Lee 7 years, 10 months ago

HA HA...Thanks KU Sports. Knew you would take my suggestion on my man Chris Harris. Broncos will destroy the "Theifs" this weekend. And yes I know that is not how you spell thieves. Back off grammar dorks.

ahpersecoachingexperience 7 years, 10 months ago

Can we make fun of you for being a Chris Harris groupie??? Dork!

Glen Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

Dream on man.... Chiefs are coming off of a bad loss and have a better team. The Chiefs will win Sunday, put it on the board.

mandomax 7 years, 10 months ago

misspelling Thief has nothing to do with grammar Jim

Gary Wirsig 7 years, 10 months ago

Sorry, mandomax, didn't see your comment until after I posted mine...

Gary Wirsig 7 years, 10 months ago

That would be spelling, not grammar. Not that I'm a spelling dork or anything...

Tyler Fox 7 years, 10 months ago

Who would have thought that the only two starters from recent Jayhawk teams would be defensive backs? We know Talib shut down his side of the field all by himself most of the time, but Harris never really stood out at KU after Bill Young left. He worked hard but seemed to be a slightly above average player on a far below average defense. Who knows what he could have done in college in the right schemes and with the right coaching. I guess it also probably shows how much DB's rely on Defensive linemen to generate a decent pass rush, Aqib had McClinton, Harris never had anyone consistent.

kureignman 7 years, 10 months ago

I met Chris a few weeks ago at a Broncos blood drive. I told him there were lots of Jayhawks in the Denver area that were proud of him. He said he'd just keep working hard and hopefully he'd get his shot. And boy has he taken advantage of the opportunity. Glad to see him do well.

KGphoto 7 years, 10 months ago

Show me the moneyyyy!!

What's his current contract? He has to be one of the top performing, undrafted free agents in the NFL so far, if not THE top performer. The Broncos had 17 UDFA signings, including Mario Fannin and several CBs, and he's the only guy to crack the roster. Then he beats out veterans Wilhite and Vaughn for nickel duties and leads the team in tackles twice in a row?

Chris, get Jerry on the line.

chicagojayhawk87 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, I'm always happy hearing about a Jayhawk in the NFL, however, as long as he's at Denver I hope he never wins another game.

CHIEFS

Tebow sucks, btw

chicagojayhawk87 7 years, 10 months ago

Well, I'm always happy hearing about a Jayhawk in the NFL, however, as long as he's at Denver I hope he never wins another game.

CHIEFS

Tebow sucks, btw

Gary Wirsig 7 years, 10 months ago

But with his size, athleticism, and drive, I wonder if he could be a good defensive back in the NFL, similar to Nolan Cromwell?

cool_beans 7 years, 10 months ago

“He’s been ballin’ in practice all week, ballin’ in games." This should have been the title of the article.

kranny 7 years, 10 months ago

Makes a person wonder why he didn't excel the last few years at KU? Would it be the coaching and schemes put in place that didn't take advantage of his skills or lack of pass rush, all of the above and more..? Doesn't make sense.

ahpersecoachingexperience 7 years, 10 months ago

So with Laptad that's 2 NFL'ers on last years "D". So much for the cupboard was bare excuse!

Jayhawk2016 7 years, 10 months ago

Laptad got cut from the Bears practice squad about a week ago.

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