The Rebels had to make up a missed day of practice and opted to do it this morning at 5:30. The…
Andrew Harris -
Against most cornerbacks, his strength level gives him a distinct advantage and his speed is good enough for him to get open deep on occasion.
In the past nine months, Drew has worked hard on getting his hands more dependable and that work has paid off as well.
But what has really helped his cause this spring has been the development, as many say, "between the ears."
It's called comfort and confidence, something Andrew did not possess in large doses last season as he was transitioning to the college level.
He rode his physicality to early playing time, getting in the games in 2008 when the Rebels needed some tough downfield blocking, but this spring he wanted more. He wanted to earn a spot in the regular wide receiver rotation as a receiving threat.
Around the second half of spring training, a different Harris started to emerge.
In every practice, Drew was making catches and becoming a target the Ole Miss quarterbacks were noticing and throwing to on a more frequent basis.
"Last year, everything was new and it was hard to develop a rhythm, but this spring I feel very comfortable," said Andrew. "I just took what Coach (Houston) Nutt has been telling us about a lot of us needing to step up and decided why not me?"
The comfort level he felt from being familiar with his assignments and the Rebel offense, plus his why-not-me approach, helped Harris gain confidence on the field.
"I'm very confident now. I feel I'm ready to start contributing more to the wide receiver unit and to the team," he continued. "It's pretty amazing what comfort and confidence can do for an athlete. It gives you more energy.
"The hardest part of the transition from prep school to this level was feeling sure of myself and knowing that I knew what to do. It took me a while, but once I got that knowledge and feeling, it allowed me to play fast."
Andrew, as was stated, got by on being more physical than the cornerbacks he has faced through the years, but now he believes he's starting to develop the whole package.
"It's fun to be able to manhandle smaller guys trying to cover me. It's an advantage I use as much as possible, but there's more to being a complete wide receiver than that and those were the things I needed to learn and keep developing," he stated. "Route-running, reading coverages, knowing how to shake a corner who is in press coverage with technique releases and catching the ball consistently were all areas I needed to work on and still need to work on.
"I think I have made strides in all those areas, but I know there is a lot more for me to do."
Wide Receivers Coach Ron Dickerson and Nutt have both been pleased with Drew's progress through spring, but they agree with him about his future.
"Drew is getting there. He made a big jump this spring, but he's still got to keep working on his consistency in several areas," Dickerson noted. "What I like is the direction he's going in and the confidence and desire he's showing now."
Harris is hoping for and working toward a bigger role than just blocking next season.
"I made a lot of catches in spring training and I think I started to get noticed some for my receiving ability by the coaches," he closed. "I know I can block and help that way, but I want to be able to contribute in the passing game as well.
"My plan is to keep working so I can reach my goal of more playing time and of being in the regular wide receiver rotation. If I keep working hard and have a great offseason, I think I can add a dimension to the offense that we need more of."
Drew caught two passed for 46 yards in the Grove Bowl playing wideout against the number one defense. He also had a long reception negated when he was called out of bounds on the sidelines even though he thought he tapped one foot down.
It was not a great day, but it was a start toward achieving more of what he wants to accomplish as a Rebel.
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