USC: James Harbin

Pro Day notes, quotes and video

March, 7, 2012

Here are notes and quotes from USC's annual Pro Day event held on campus Wednesday that didn't fit into the rest of our coverage from the day:
  • The stars of the day were left tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry, by far. Both players dominated the only thing in which they participated -- position-specific drills. Perry's agility showed up in his drills, when he looked twice as fast as the other defensive linemen in changing directions in small areas. Kalil went one-on-one against Rhett Ellison and Martin Coleman in line/tight end drills and consistently controlled each situation.
  • Ellison looked good in pass-catching drills, far more fluid than he did last season. With a respectable time of 4.83 in the 40 and height/weight of 6 feet 5 and 250 pounds, Ellison might be drafted higher than initially projected. Worst-case scenario, he could probably be a usable special-teamer in the NFL. And he has the bloodlines and work ethic to give him the benefit of the doubt.
  • Christian Tupou again didn't test well, running 5.50 and 5.40 in the 40-yard dash and struggling some in the defensive-line drills. He's really not a workout-type player and this setting hurts his stock. Running back Marc Tyler said scouts had him in between a 4.64 and 4.70 40, but his official time was in the 4.8-range. He joked that he wasn't going to be running for any 70-yard touchdowns regardless, unless the defender chasing him slipped.
  • The fastest 40-yard dash time from a 2011 Trojan was Brandon Carswell's 4.56. Former USC defensive back Cary Harris ran the overall fastest time with a 4.53. The slowest went to Coleman who was timed at 5.95 and 6.03 (gulp). Of the prospects with a legitimate hope of being drafted, Carswell's time helped him the most.
  • A general theme from those who went to the NFL combine: It's a little bit scary. Tyler said the time change messed him up and an injured hamstring contributed to his poor running in the 40-yard dash. Linebacker Chris Galippo said he was happy with his performance, not only on the field but in the interview room, where he said he hoped he showed teams he was a "fast-twitch brain" kind of player.
  • Among the walk-ons who worked out for USC were tackle Peter Yobo and cornerbacks Boomer Roepke, James Harbin and Allen Noble. Former players included Cary Harris, safety Kevin Ellison, linebacker Nick Garratt and defensive back Josh Pinkard. 2011 Trojans who worked out but aren't expected to be drafted included linebacker Shane Horton, safety Marshall Jones and long-snapper Chris Pousson.

Harbin a heady player

October, 20, 2011

When we last heard of USC walk-on cornerback James Harbin, he was working a graveyard shift at a warehouse and still showing up daily at Trojans' spring practices, competing man-to-man against some of the team's most talented receivers.

Trojans coach Lane Kiffin mentioned him back then as an example of a standout person and player who benefited the team with his work ethic. But, back then, that felt like it was all sort of for show -- sure, Harbin was a good practice player, but he never got in the games, other than the occasional special-teams snap.

That's about to change. Harbin, a senior transfer from Los Angeles Southwest College, is the Trojans' fourth corner heading into Saturday's game against Notre Dame, filling in for the injured Torin Harris (shoulder) and Anthony Brown (ankle). He probably won't play a bunch, but if anything happens to the three players in front of him, Harbin will be right in the fray as USC's nickel corner against a vaunted Irish passing offense.

"It's a pretty cool story," Kiffin said this week. "He would come right from the graveyard shift of working his security job and then come right to here and walk right into practice, so it says a lot about him and his dedication so it's a pretty good story."

Harbin stopped doing that graveyard shift in April. But he said retains certain attributes he developed doing the dirty work on the football field.

"It made me who I am today, which is a very strong individual," Harbin said Thursday. "And I'm ready for any challenge that comes my way.

"It definitely was a challenge to work at night and right after work go to practice and then right after practice go to class and then find gaps in my schedule to sleep."

It's very abnormal for student-athletes to have jobs -- and even more abnormal for football players. Harbin said he got a lot of quizzical feedback from his teammates when they found out, at various points in time, about his extracurricular activities.

"A lot of players asked me, like, 'How do you do it? Where do you get the energy? How is that possible?' Because most of the players don't have jobs, and working at night is like, 'Wow.' So there were a lot of comments. But I just told them I had to do it."

"I think I get a lot of respect from doing that, because they understand that this is a tough thing to do. And I appreciate and respect their consideration, but I don't use it as an excuse. I never use that as an excuse to slack off."

When Harbin was being interviewed Thursday for the first time in his college career, a number of teammates snuck up behind him to yell loudly and celebrate his moment of recognition. It was a token of appreciation for a player who has quietly done all of his duties over the years without complaint.

Now comes his real chance to make noise at Notre Dame Stadium.

"I'm prepared," Harbin said. "I listen to the coaches, I watch film, I understand all the plays, And I'm physically fit and able to meet every demand and challenge. Being the fourth corner other places might not sound so good, but here at USC it's definitely a great opportunity, especially as a walk-on.

"I'm definitely honored and I don't take it for granted."

Spring practice No. 3 tidbits

March, 26, 2011
Two main stories out of practice today: Jesse Scroggins said the race to be Matt Barkley's backup is dead even, and the Trojans are tackling. Here's the rest of what went on Howard Jones Field on Saturday in tidbit form, with more coming Sunday on guard/center Khaled Holmes and his future on the offensive line:
  • With tackling drills come hitting, and with hitting come big plays. Two of the bigger plays were a smash hit from receiver Markeith Ambles on walk-on corner Allen Noble during one-on-one tackling drills and a big-time interception by Anthony Brown during seven-on-seven drills. Brown had a great day, carrying over from a winter workouts season in which he continually impressed, and he earned praise from coach Lane Kiffin after practice. Kiffin said that while Brown, at 6 feet and 185 pounds, doesn't have great measurables, he put up great numbers at Fontana Kaiser High, and the Trojans are hoping he does more of the same at USC.
  • Running back D.J. Morgan (knee) and receiver Robert Woods (hamstring) were added to the injury list for the Trojans, but Kiffin intimated that neither injury was serious. Morgan had a small flare-up in his surgically repaired right knee, which Kiffin attributed partly to the wetness of the grass on the practice field because of rain over the last few days. Holmes did some snapping once again but will continue to be limited and held out of contact drills for the foreseeable future, probably for the rest of spring, Kiffin said.
  • Walk-on cornerback James Harbin was named the most valuable player of the day after intercepting Scroggins on the final play of practice. Both Lane and Monte Kiffin praised the senior's efforts Saturday, explaining that Harbin had worked a graveyard shift at a warehouse last night and got off work only a few hours before practice started, heading straight from one commitment to another. "That's why I love coaching," Monte Kiffin said. "To see things kids do like that, walk-on kids, it's unbelievable."
  • When running back Marc Tyler pulled his hamstring late in USC's first practice of the spring on Tuesday, he immediately complained that he hadn't stretched, and, two days later, he repeated those claims when talking with the media, saying that the Trojans didn't stretch like they used to and that was the reason for his injury. Kiffin said Saturday that was false. "We have discussed that with Marc," he said, breaking into a rare smile. "Since he pulled his hamstring two hours into practice, it wasn't stretching two hours before that." Kiffin added that USC staffers traditionally set up four training tables on the pathway from the locker room to the practice field in case players desire extra stretching. "I don't think any college in America does that," he said.
  • USC officially added 12 walk-ons to its roster Saturday, including receiver Cody Gifford, the son of former New York Giants running back/receiver/defensive back Frank Gifford. The list includes receiver Reed Semcken, the son of Grand Crossing football stadium developer John Semcken, and receiver Chidozie Uche, a native of London, England. Hawaiian receiver Walter Calistro rejoined the team after participating in spring practice last year.



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