The Harris family business

After impressing at Miami NFTC, Al Harris Jr. ready to follow father's success

Originally Published: April 13, 2012
By Jamie Newberg | ESPN RecruitingNation

Miami -- Like father, like son.

Al Harris Jr.
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSAl Harris Jr. hopes to follow in his father's footsteps and become a big-time football prospect.
That's what's being said about cornerback Al Harris Jr. of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas.

Harris -- the son of Al Harris, the former defensive back who played for the Eagles and Packers, among other teams, in his 14-year NFL career -- impressed Sunday with a solid performance at the Nike Football Training Camp at Barry University.

"You can just tell that that kid is going to be something special," Nike Camp defensive back coach Eugene Jackson said. "Al will be a kid on everyone's radar."

Harris (5-foot-11, 165 pounds) is only a sophomore but is well ahead of the game and in many ways and light-years ahead of his peers.

"He's always been around the game," Al Harris Sr. said. "He was with me in Lambeau [Field] all those years. In-season, off-season, Al has always been around me and involved. Always.

"He has soaked everything in. He's so hungry and so inquisitive with everything from technique to learning a player's tendencies. He is so far advanced for his age. Put it this way, he's much further along than I could have ever dreamed about at the same stage. It's not even close."

That's saying something, especially considering the career of Harris' father. Harris' football education started at an early age and just became a part of his life.

"Believe it or not, he started doing drills around the age of 4," Harris Sr. said. "When he was 7 he started doing drills with me."

This isn't a case of a passionate father pushing the game on his son. It's actually quite the contrary. Dad is there to guide and teach. It's the son with the ambition and hunger to follow in his father's footsteps.

"I never have to ask him to get out of bed to go train or lift weights," Harris Sr. said.

"He just has that desire to work and learn. When I do have to discipline him all I have to do is to take the weights away, or tell him he can't go work out. And do you know what? I never have to tell him that."

Harris Jr. knows he has an ace in the hole with his father and what he has taught him. He also knows he has been blessed with this opportunity.

"It's been so beneficial to me," Harris Jr. said.

"It's funny, because he never let me think it's always good, and he always gives me good criticism. I just have learned from that. But it's easy for me. My dad is my role model, and he's the guy I look up to. I want to do everything he does. I want to mimic him with everything he does. I have had a huge advantage with him teaching me."

Harris Jr. doesn't have any scholarship offers yet, but it's early for a player who is part of the Class of 2014. Miami, LSU, Tulane, Florida State and Florida are schools he says interest him now. Jackson says Harris has all the tools to play at those types of programs.

"He's so far ahead of the game," Jackson said. "Al has great feet, long arms and is very explosive. His football knowledge is off the charts, especially for someone his age. You can absolutely tell that his father has been working with him."

The work will continue, and not just at home. Harris Sr. is now retired from the NFL and will be his position coach at football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas.

"It's an awesome feeling," Harris Sr. said. "It's something we have always talked about since he was little. It all worked out perfectly and the way it was supposed to be. I had great, great years in the NFL and now it's on to this. I get such a kick out of thinking I will get to really coach him. I am loving life.

"And it brings tears to my eyes to see him blossom as a man."

With two more years of high school ball remaining, Harris, will continue to work on his game and work with his father. Dad just wants to continue to pass down his knowledge and experience and give his son the best opportunity to shine so he can have the same opportunities. This is a classic example of the apple not falling far from the tree.

"I just want to pass along the family business," Harris Sr. said. "And he wants it."