Thursday, August 12, 2010
DaJohn Harris is getting comfortable
By Pedro Moura
There he was, 6-foot-4, 305-pound defensive tackle DaJohn Harris, dancing in the Howard Jones Field end zone during Wednesday's practice.
Of course, Harris had just made a big stop inside the five-yard line and was awaiting his next turn during the Trojans' raucous goal-line drills. And loud rap music was bouncing from nearby speakers, with a host of his teammates -- on both sides of the ball -- showing off their own dance moves as well.
But the statement had been made: Harris is finally comfortable at USC.
The man teammates call "Juicy" was an unknown figure to most during his first three seasons in the land of Troy, spent fighting off injuries, academic woes and a loaded depth chart. Recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, Harris did have some success in 2009, playing in nine games as a reserve tackle and logging 14 tackles.
Expected to be a key reserve behind Christian Tupou at the all-important nose tackle position, Harris became a bit of a household name in Trojan circles when his 52-yard strip-and-run of Mitch Mustain was tacked on to the YouTube video that featured Dillon Baxter's famed herky-jerky touchdown run.
From there, Harris' play shot up.
Lane Kiffin called him the "surprise of camp" in the spring. Defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was quick to complement him when asked about his defensive tackle rotation. And his defensive line mates -- fellow tackle Hebron 'Loni' Fangupo and end Wes Horton included -- have also since lauded his play.
As a solid performer through a week of fall camp, the Gardena Serra product now stands to start as the gap-clogging nose tackle for the Trojans in the stead of Tupou, who went down with torn ligaments in his left knee during the spring game.
Here's a video interview with the lively Harris, taken after Wednesday's practice: