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2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Brontae Harris, CB, UAB

Brontae Harris is a feisty defender in UAB’s secondary who participated in several all-star events such as the College Gridiron Showcase, Tropical Bowl and the Hula Bowl. He recently sat down with with NFL Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Brontae Harris
  • Height: 5’9”
  • Weight: 180 lbs
  • Position: CB
  • College: University at Alabama at Birmingham
  • Twitter: @Brontae_2
  • Instagram: Brontae_Harris1

Talk about your experience as a student. What is your major/minor? Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?
As a student, I had to study a lot. So, I took time to prepare for what came ahead. One of the good things is that a lot of students know you as a football player and are willing to help you out. So, I had plenty of support if I needed it. I actually had 2 majors, Communications and General Studies. Communications is something that I wanted to do because I want to get into sports broadcasting for football and basketball when my football career is over. It really helped me gain skills to be able to stand in front of people and talk. General Studies helped a lot by taking many different courses. That major equipped me with a very well-rounded education.

What do your teammates say is your best quality?
I believe my teammates would say my leadership. They know they can comfortably come to me if they have any questions about drills, film study or understanding the game. My teammates also know that they can come to me with any problem where it be with football or family.

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?
My role is to be the leader on the field. I’m there to get things going when things get rough. I’m confident as a leader and savvy enough to understand what’s going on. I also know that I need to portray confidence on and off the field.

My assignment on the field has been to cover the best receiver, shut him down and take him out of the game. I’ve also been very active on special teams since coming to UAB. I’ve been the corner covering the gunner on punts as well as the safety on the kickoff team. I love being able to make that game changing tackle in the open field and stopping someone from scoring.

The position that I’ve played on defense has been fairly versatile. I’ve played the star position (nickel) which sometimes rolls over into me playing the safety. Yet, I’ve mostly played the boundary corner which is where the best players usually are. I see myself projected to the slot corner/nickel position in the pros. I believe I thrive there if you put on the tape. You’re really more involved in the defense there and can leverage players where you want them to go. As a nickel, I contribute in coverage, take up gap responsibilities and even help out in the run. That isn’t to say that I can’t play on the outside because that’s what I’m used to doing. On the outside, I’d be more of a zone corner anticipating routes and watching the eyes on the QB and where he wants to go with the ball. So, I’m very diverse in what I bring to the table.

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?
I remember playing Rico Bussey at North Texas before he transferred to Hawaii. He really challenged me in every phase. He displays good speed, power,  is good in his breaks and has a great release. Not a lot of players know how to release and get into their routes, and Bussey does a great job of that. He’s twitchy and sells his routes well.

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?
Austin Watkins. I saw him come into the team from JUCO and participate on the scout team. He was very patient in waiting his turn. He does excellent work with our offense and works harder than most people that I know.

Dy’jonn Turner plays our star position, and he’s taken a big step in his development. I remember back in 2018 when we won our championship seeing that he had the potential. He had a breakout year in 2019 and made a ton of plays. He’s really matured and taken on a leadership role. He’s the player to watch on our team in 2021.

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.
Back in 2018, it was my first season here, and I was starting after Darious Williams had left. We had just won our first championship, and I remember coming off that season having the 4th highest grade from PFF and being named to the preseason all conference first team and to the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List for the following season. That was actually the first time a player at UAB had that distinction.

For the 2019 season, we had lost a bunch of starters, and we knew we had to work hard to defend our championship. Yet, on the second day of fall camp when we were doing one-on-ones, I tore the lisfranc in my foot. The doctor told me that I had two options which were to either have surgery or wait and let it heal. We have great doctors at UAB, but we sent my x-rays to NFL doctors to get their opinion. Their recommendation was to go ahead and have the surgery because it would serve me better in the long run.

Now, I’m not going to lie. I was a little depressed after going through surgery. I had never had a major injury or surgery in my life before that point. My emotions were everywhere. I felt that I couldn’t do anything. I was on the sidelines and couldn’t play. Yet, to be honest, it allowed me to gain a different perspective and to become even more of a leader

Throughout my rehab, I leaned on God. I had a great support system from my teammates, family and friends. Yet, I focused on that relationship with God the most. I had to change my mindset and think about getting out of my situation. I learned to shift my focus on the positive. While I was healing physically, I grew emotionally and spiritually, and learned a lot about myself.

I’ve been fully healed now since the beginning of 2020, and I have a tattoo of a scooter to remind me of my struggle and how I persevered through it.

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?
Basketball. I played point guard in high school scoring 2320 total points. I am the all-time leading scorer in Cullman County and was named to the All-Area First Team. I went to Alabama A&M with the intentions of playing basketball there. At the time, UAB’s football program was shut down. My first year at A&M, I redshirted and didn’t play a sport for the first time in many years. That time away from sports made me really miss football. UAB had then reinstated their football program and offered me a walk-on spot as a transfer. My parents didn’t like that at first. Yet, after my first semester at UAB I earned a scholarship. So, we only had to pay for one semester out of pocket.

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement was landing on the Jim Thorpe Watch list two times. Having your name affiliated with that is a big blessing.

I’m most proud of how I grew as a person through my injury. It allowed me the opportunity to interact with more people on the team. It really helped my character being an all-around good person and showing love to everyone.

Among my accolades, I’m very proud to be named to the 2020 All-Conference USA Second Team. I feel like that’s a big achievement given that I was coming back from injury and we had four of our games cancelled.

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.
My best moment has to be that first championship in 2018. Having that feeling is something that I’ll never forget, getting a big ring and seeing all your hard work pay off.

One of the best plays that I ever had was in my freshman year. I was starting a home game against Rice, and I was really nervous. Darious kept me composed. I was the outside boundary corner on an out route by the receiver. I got the interception which turned out to be a pick six.

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?
I’m a little biased, but my favorite NFL athlete is Darious Williams. His IQ for the game is great. He’s able to study the film and pick up on a lot of keys. Darious went undrafted and now he’s playing opposite of Jalen Ramsey for the Rams. Ramsey is one of those players that I model my game after. He displays great confidence on the field. Darius Slay is another guy that I watch. He’s such a technician and has good poise. Jaire Alexander is another guy that I model my game after because he’s very physical, defeats blocks and can make open field tackles.

Who is your favorite music artist? What gets you pumped before a game?
My favorite artist is NBA YoungBoy. His song “I Want It All” is something I have to listen to before games.

What is your favorite comfort food?
My girlfriend knows me so well and makes me homemade tacos and good quesadillas. You have that with good meat, seasoned with lettuce and sour cream, that’s my comfort food.

Do you have a favorite movie, TV show or actor?
My favorite TV show is Snowfall. My favorite actor has to be Denzel Washington. One of my favorite movies is The Friday After Next.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Any secret talents?
I’m mostly a homebody. I still like to play basketball when I can. I also like online gaming. I play Call of Duty: Black Ops and 2K mypark.

Who or what motivates you the most?
My family motivates me the most. My mom, dad, two younger brothers and two little twin sisters. I strive to be a good role model for them being their oldest brother. I try and be someone they can look up to and be proud of. I set an example for them and hopefully they will mimic that good behavior.

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