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Simply Saturday: Major Harris

6/29/2011

There is a special feature on ESPN.com called "Simply Saturday" running all week, counting down the Top 50 players who did not have the same success in the NFL as they did in college. Each day, 10 more players are revealed until we get to No. 1.

One player from a Big East team is on the list so far: West Virginia quarterback Major Harris, coming in at No. 38. Here is what Mark Schlabach wrote about Harris:

Few players did more to put their schools back on the college football map than Harris, a dual-threat quarterback, who guided West Virginia to its first undefeated, untied season in 1988.

After leading the Mountaineers to an 11-0 record in '88, Harris & Co. lost to Notre Dame 34-21 in the 1989 Fiesta Bowl. Harris finished third in Heisman Trophy voting as a junior the next year.

He was selected in the 12th round by the Los Angeles Raiders in 1990, but never took a snap in the NFL. He played one season in the Canadian Football League and five more in the Arena League.

I tried reaching Harris for a where are they now update, but he did not return my phone calls. There is no understating his impact not only on West Virginia but on college football. Before Pat White and Tim Tebow and Cam Newton, there was Major Harris. It was Harris who became the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards and pass for more than 5,000 yards in a career as a three-year starter for the Mountaineers.

He decided to leave school after his junior year, but the NFL never worked out. He still remains a fan favorite, and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.