Making his second start of the 2012 season, former Kansas University cornerback and current Denver Bronco, Chris Harris, made quite a name for himself on Monday Night Football during Denver’s 35-24, come-from-behind victory over San Diego.
Harris, a 2011 KU grad, known by all of those who ever covered him as one of the nicest dudes around, finished with two interceptions, four tackles and the game-clinching pick-six touchdown during Denver’s historic comeback. The Broncos' victory, after digging out of a 24-0 halftime hole, was the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history.
Harris’ success in the NFL has caught many by surprise, and it’s a classic example of one of those situations where raw talent and a ton of hard work can pay off for these players in the end.
It happens all the time in the NBA. How many random point guards have you come across where you have to look up where he went to college or wonder why you’ve never heard of him?
Harris, no doubt, is one of those guys for NFL fans everywhere but, to the Broncos, he’s an absolute steal.
Not only has he produced on the field, he already has become a fan-favorite around the Denver area for his signature smile and never-ending kindness. He's done a ton of charity work in the city and also is a regular weekly guest on a local talk radio show.
For those who watched him in college, Harris’ rise to NFL starter came as quite a surprise. After starting opposite future first-rounder Aqib Talib for the Jayhawks in the Orange Bowl, Harris’ next few seasons were a little quieter. He always seemed solid, but rarely stood out as a guy who had an NFL future. Part of the reason for that was coaching, as Harris was moved around to a lot of different positions and was not always used in a way that showcased his strengths. He never complained. Instead, he soaked up everything he could from each position and each coach, and it was that versatility and depth of knowledge that caught NFL eyes.
Another thing Harris did during all this time was work — hard. I’ve never seen a player get so much bigger and so much better in the few months between the end of his senior season and that April’s Draft as I did with Harris. The leap he made was immediately noticeable and very impressive.
I love the guy, and he was a favorite of mine from his freshman year on. But, love him or not, he definitely was a guy that you had to feel good for when everything worked out the way it did.
Harris joined Denver as an undrafted free agent following the 2011 NFL Draft. He had interest and offers from other teams but chose Denver because he believed he had a chance to play. He was right.
While playing in all 16 games as a rookie in 2011, including making four starts, Harris finished among the top five rookies in total tackles and was one of the true bright spots on a Denver defense that helped quarterback Tim Tebow lead the Broncos to the second round of the playoffs.
He finished the season with 72 tackles and one interception. He had two picks tonight while giving new Denver QB Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense a chance at the crazy comeback. Heck, Harris was so good that former NFL coach and current MNF broadcaster Jon Gruden named him one of his two "Gruden Grinders" for the night. This, just a week after former NFL QB and current CBS broadcaster Phil Simms called Harris "one of the best slot defenders in the NFL."
There were a dozen big plays Monday night by some names far bigger than Harris. But when the game was on the line, it was the former Jayhawk who sealed the deal. And, for those in Jayhawkland who were watching, Harris’ name was the biggest of them all.
What a night.