Football and family.
Often times, we hear athletes say their family and craft are the most important aspects of their life but sometimes the actions don’t align with the sentiment.
However, if you spend a few minutes talking to Quentin Harris, former starting Duke Blue Devils QB, you will see he is who he is today is because of family and football.
Family and football are woven together in the Harris family. Whether it be his grandfather, Elbert Harris, and two uncles, Melvin Harris and Elbert Harris Jr, who all played at Florida A&M; a cousin, Tyrone Cornileus, that played for the Miami Hurricanes; another cousin, Evan Harris, that played for the Miami (OH) RedHawks or his father, Kevin Harris, who played at the University of Georgia and then briefly in the NFL.
Harris joked about being a football family saying, “You can’t go too far in my family before football comes up. It’s definitely great being able to lean on my family outside of football. We can really talk about everything.”
But it is in the bond of football that a father and a son formed a special relationship. Harris was coached formally by his father until he got to high school, but the coaching did not stop there; it just came in different forms. Recalling the moments, Harris said, “I grew up with my dad coaching me and it was great. He challenged us [youth league team] with a pretty complicated offense for kids our age.”
That initial football introduction would only grow from there. Harris mentioned how lucky he was having his father to teach him how to read a defense, what keys to look for and how to be a quarterback, overall, because of how his father saw the game. Harris stated, “My dad played QB in high school and then at Georgia he played WR and DB. He moved to DB and that’s where he was noticed by NFL teams.”
Those moments culminated in an early scholarship offer for Harris; who received an offer from Boston College as a freshman after attending a football camp hosted by BC. The offer took Harris by surprise because at this time he was not the primary Varsity QB. Additionally, Harris was playing high school ball at The Taft School in Connecticut. Harris spoke about Connecticut not being a football hotbed, so for him, the BC Camp was his eye-popping moment. The BC Camp is where he realized football could have a promising future for him. It was on that car ride home where his strong family connection once again was on display. On the way home, Harris described the car ride as a lifelong memory. Harris went into vivid detail about the ride from BC back home, how he was feeling, the overall excitement in the car from everyone and having it settle in that he had received his first scholarship offer.
When it came time to make a college decision, Harris did not drag out the process. He went in with a clear vision of what he was looking for in a college program. Harris wanted a program that offered strong academics with the ability to play football at the highest level of competition possible, so when Duke offered it was almost a no brainer.
Harris, though, prepared himself for Duke by attending The Taft School, a boarding school in Connecticut with a rich history of athletic and academic success. Harris mentioned a big reason for attending The Taft School was how it was going to prepare him for his goal of playing in the NFL. Harris knew The Taft School was going to prepare him for his ultimate goal of playing in the NFL by introducing him to a rigorous daily schedule. A calculated move like this in high school shows a passion to play that not many can match.
When Harris arrived on-campus he took a redshirt year with the football program and during that year he even flirted with playing baseball at Duke; as he participated in baseball workouts before deciding to focus purely on football. Harris said that the decision to give up baseball wasn’t easy because he wanted to play but between football, baseball and academics Harris felt it was an unfortunate truth. He took that energy from leaving baseball and turned it into a moment of growth. It is that confidence in himself that allowed him to grow and develop as a football player and person as a member of the Blue Devils program. Harris said playing for Head Coach David Cutcliffe made him pay great attention to detail. Harris noted, “Coach Cutcliffe is a great coach and immediately you notice his attention to detail.”
It is in that attention to detail and playing in an “NFL offense at Duke” that Harris found himself. Harris worked tirelessly to improve his overall game taking every meeting, conversation and coaching opportunity, in general, to heart because, as Harris repeated during our conversation multiple times, “There are not many coaches that have the QB resume that Coach Cutcliffe does.”
Harris eluding to Cutcliffe and his work with Eli and Peyton Manning and also with Daniel Jones, current New York Giants QB. Harris mentioned the relationship he and Jones have and how helpful Jones has been with preparing Harris for what is about to come throughout the process. In fact, Harris was able to see Jones in person as they were both working out at the Duke facilities recently. Harris said, “Daniel and I have a very good relationship. He has been a great asset and help to me.”
That relationship, however, did not prevent Harris from preparing as if his number could be called at any moment. And Harris was right. Harris started in place of Jones in the 2018 season; as Jones was out for a couple of games and Harris shined. Harris brought home two victories in his two starts that season; with a dominating win over North Carolina Central and a three-touchdown performance against Baylor. It was in those performances that Harris laid the groundwork for when he would take the reigns as starting QB.
When Harris was called upon in 2019, he was the driving force behind an offense that averaged 25 points per game. Harris showcased his multifaceted game on multiple occasions this season. Harris put together video game-like numbers in the month of September when he totaled 745 passing yards and 10 TDs with 0 INT and 290 rushing yards and 2 TDs; winning all three games.
And that is what everyone must know about Quentin Harris. When he is given the opportunity he shines. Playing in the NFL has always been the dream for Harris, even as a child. He went on to say that growing up in school whenever the assignment was to research a career the only career he researched was as an NFL player. Harris knew the importance of education at a young age as his parents emphasized education when he was a child, but he could not shake the dream of playing in the NFL.
When Harris was asked about his emotions surrounding his pending professional career he stated the following:
“When I think about being in an NFL camp that means everything to me. I’ve always wanted to play in the NFL and I have a passion to play. And that is what I want NFL teams to know.”
Harris is a hidden gem of a QB in the 2020 Draft Class. He has a versatile game, displaying supreme confidence in the pocket while delivering beautiful passes downfield where only the WR can get it; but, also, Harris can slash a defense with his legs racking up chunk yards as displayed on his 42-yard TD run against Virginia Tech in 2019. Quentin Harris is one helluva football player and is going to make some NFL team extremely happy.