|ESPN.com: College Football||[Print without images]|
|Macho Harris picked off five passes for the Hokies in 2007.|
When he was a senior in high school, Harris was severely burned while putting out a grease fire in the kitchen. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, who also had been burned while trying to put out a grease fire when he was young, was there recruiting Harris that afternoon and went to the hospital with Harris and his family. Ten days later -- on Christmas Day, 2004 -- Harris' mother, Maritza, died of a brain aneurism. Her image is tattooed on his forearm, right below where the oil for her famous french fries had splashed and singed him."In high school, before I got burned, everything was going well for me," Harris said. "I was breaking records in high school -- I'm talking big games, week-in, week-out hype. I felt like I was on top of the mountain, and then, when all this stuff happened, it was like the mountain was on top of me." Consider the mountain moved. Entering his senior season, Harris is once again worthy of some hype. He turned down the NFL draft to return to Virginia Tech, and this spring, Harris proved he is capable of helping the Hokies in all three phases of the game -- as a cornerback, a punt returner and a receiver. With All-American Brandon Flowers gone for the NFL, Harris is now his replacement at boundary corner. With flanker Eddie Royal gone, Harris could be the top return man (he took a kickoff back 100 yards for a TD against Clemson last season). And with all four starting receivers gone, there's a good possibility Harris could be a playmaker on offense as well. He spent the first six spring practices at wide receiver. After going against Harris a few times this spring, free safety Kam Chancellor smiled when he said, "Yes, I do prefer him to stay on my side."
From questions on Clemson's offensive line to BC's lack of RBs to Virginia Tech's blazing receiver, Heather Dinich has the latest news from ACC spring practices. ACC notes
|Frank Beamer is fulfilling his promise to give Harris a chance to play both sides of the ball.|
Harris, who made five interceptions last year, said he wants to be the kind of player he chooses to put in when he's playing Madden video games."We've got good receivers who are capable of getting the job done," he said. "That's no problem at all. I want to come in there and just You want to have that player who throws the whole game off. You put him in at a time when you've got the other opponent on his heels. I kinda want to be like that guy; just throw them off a little bit." During the first part of spring practices, Harris was only a receiver and attended meetings with the offense. Then he switched back to concentrate on defense. During the final week of spring practices, he played both. "The things I've noticed about him is he's a guy who can control his body, he can run good routes, he can get in and out of a break," said receivers coach Kevin Sherman. "The thing I was surprised by him was his ball skills. You don't see it a whole lot from DBs because they don't catch a lot of balls, but at the receiver position I think it comes natural to him, that he can just pluck the ball out of the sky just naturally. "We threw the whole offense at him so it's kind of been a struggle for him at times, but I think once we narrow our game plan then we'll discuss how we want to utilize him this fall. We don't know how much that's going to be but it will always be a conversation that will come up. But we feel like we know he can help our football team." Virginia Tech, in turn, has also helped Harris. "I think the fact somebody loses his mother and you're right there in that whole process. I want things to turn out good for Macho," Beamer said. "He's talented enough, I just want things to turn out right for him." The artwork on Harris' biceps leads you to believe he's confident it will: "You can't stop my shine; it's God's plan not mine." "I believe in God," Harris said. "I feel blessed to be put in this position." Words that four years ago seemed unfathomable.
Heather Dinich is a college football writer for ESPN.com. Send your questions and comments to Heather at email@example.com.