Behind the Facemask: Jacory Harris

Behind the Facemask: Jacory Harris



August 29, 2011

CORAL GABLES, Fla.–They are stories of perseverance. Stories about growing up, becoming men and being a part of a family. One-by-one, we hear from them. These are the Miami Hurricanes…

Jacory Harris | Quarterback | Senior | Miami, Fla.

People might be surprised to know that I’m an all-around guy. I play football, but I can also play basketball. I pretty much try and play every sport. I can dance, I can sing, I can rap. I want to be an actor. In high school, I was doing the whole medical program, taking classes here at UM, and that was my love. I didn’t think it would fit well in college, based on the busy schedule of football, so I decided to stick with football. That’s why I’m here now.

My favorite song right now is “Trust Issues” by Drake. It speaks about having trust issues with women and people in general. That’s my favorite song out right now. It’s probably Stephen Morris’ favorite song too (laughs). Me and Stephen listen to the same things.

I always tell myself I want to get married before I have an opportunity to make it professional, but I’m trying to work that one out (laughs).

My favorite thing about being part of the U Family is just being around my teammates. I’ve had best friends I grew up with since I was eight years old, and now that they’re not around me 24/7 like we had been all of our lives, I look at my teammates for that. I don’t have any problems with anyone on the team. I’ve never had any problems with anybody. I like all of them, and they’re my brothers, because these are the guys I see every day. These are the guys that make me smile; keep me happy when anything goes wrong, and the people I hang out with. They’re my brothers.

At the U, I’ve learned so much from my past experiences. From an outside of football point of view, I’ve learned who’s really by my side through thick and thin. I’ve learned family is first.  I’ve realized that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and you have to go through some things to realize where you want to be. Growing up, probably since seventh grade, I never lost a game as a starter. Coming to college and losing in my first game as a starter, it makes you look at things in a different light. You think maybe I needed to go through this. The season I had last year went from being me nominated at the beginning of the season as a Heisman candidate to having a bad season and getting knocked around by injuries. Ending the way it did in the Sun Bowl, I think it humbled me. It made me realize a lot of things, and there are a lot of people who were with me before who are no longer here anymore. It helped me a lot. It helped me be positive, helped me realize that keeping a smile on your face will get you through everything.

One thing everyone should know about Miami football is that we’re some hard-working guys. We’re also a cross-country team, because we can run for days. We would probably beat any cross-country team if they lined up against us (laughs). We’re just a fun team. We’re like a big boy band, we all have special talents and we all want them to be shown. We all like to have fun, and that’s how we are. It’s just about unity.

Miami Northwestern is the greatest. It’s the greatest high school program there is. We always have talent there, and we always produce a lot of kids, but I think since it’s in the inner city, and there’s not a lot of structure, a lot of kids get lost in the mix of everything. School’s not always the top priority for kids there. It’s usually football, and if football doesn’t work, they turn to the streets. I feel like if that mentality could change at Miami Northwestern, then we’ll be even more recognized as a great school and a great place.

The song no one would believe I have on my iPod is “You Smile” by Justin Bieber. I have his whole album, and I went to the movies to go see him (laughs). He worked hard to get to where he is, so I can respect that.

No one can believe I’m afraid of bugs. I hate wasps, and if I see a bee anywhere on the football field, I’ll start running (laughs). I’m telling the truth. If I were under center and there was one on Tyler Horn’s back, I would literally not take the snap. I’d go to shotgun and find a way around it (laughs). I’ve been stung three times, and I think mentally it messed me up, because I hate bees. I hate them.

I’m afraid of spiders. I actually got one tattooed on my hand to face my fears, but it still didn’t work. Me and my father, we’re scared of the same thing. There was a spider in the house once, and that’s the only time I’ve seen him act like that. He wouldn’t touch anything, he doesn’t like them. He grew up in the inner city in the projects, and he was always freaked out by them.

If I could spend a day with anyone, it would be my best friend that passed away. He passed away when I was in tenth grade, and it pretty much changed my whole outlook. The reason I kept playing football was because he played football with us, and he was the one who really wanted me to play quarterback. I used to play around the neighborhood, but I never thought I was good enough to actually play. He helped me get to the necessary mentality. He would be the one I would want to spend a day with.

The best advice is something I say every day to my teammates, which is to stay positive and always look in the mirror at what you could have done better. If you stay positive and you do that, you’ll never have a reason to blame anyone else. I spent most of last season trying to find ways not to put it on myself, but I pretty much now see it that if something bad happens, I could have done something better to help myself. I could have watched more film, I could have done this, I could have done that. You have to keep on fighting and keep on taking the positive things that you improve on, and then you’ll be at one with yourself. It’s easy to blame the coaches, but you’re the one who’s in your situation, so you have to help yourself get out of it. When you think positive, only positive things come out of it.

Coach Fisch is an interesting guy. He’s pretty young. He just turned 35. He keeps everything interesting when it comes to football. It makes you want to learn more every day. You go into practice actually happy to be there and willing and ready to work and give your all for him. He brings it out of me. He’s the type of guy that everybody can really rally around and play for. He stays positive about everything, and there’s a lot of negativity he doesn’t focus on. No matter what, it’s a fun quarterback room and it’s all smiles in there.

Competition is what it is. It’s exactly what it means. It’s about going against someone who really wants your job, or trying to get that person’s job. I feel like the world is a competition. Everything in life is a competition. No matter what, you’re trying to get to the top. You have to keep working to be on top, no matter what you’re doing. I feel that’s how it is on the field, between me, Stephen, Spencer Whipple and Ryan Williams, it’s a competition everyday out there. We compete in drills, in 7-on-7. Even though I’m a three-year starter here, I could be a Heisman winner, anything, it doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t think I’m the first one to go. I’m always going to give everybody an opportunity. Me and Stephen play rock, paper, scissors every day to decide who goes first in drills. It’s a competition, always. Everybody needs equal opportunity, I’m not the type to say I’m getting this many reps or that many reps. Everybody has fun, and we get equal amount of time out there, it’s about the best man winning. I’ve been competing since my freshman year here, going into my sophomore year and even now. Competition brings out the best in you.

Miami is a city that loves and hates you at the same time. It’s kind of weird and it’s kind of crazy, but last year I didn’t see it that way. I put it as a city that hates you. The people here want to see their team do well, and they want to see you do well also. They’re mad for you, they’re not mad at you. It’s a cool city, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

I played a lot of receiver in the streets growing up. When I used to pass the ball in the street, people always said I should play quarterback. My friend who passed, he was like an older brother but he wasn’t that much older. He was the most mature out of the bunch, and he sat me down and told me I should really think about playing quarterback. When I came to JV my ninth grade year, I was out there and one of my coaches knew I could throw. I was at receiver, and quarterbacks were throwing the ball behind us. The coach told me to come and show them how it’s done. I was doing it just to play around, but I completed a couple of passes and from that day on I never played receiver again. That’s why I have it in my heart every time I get on the field, I know I can play receiver. I can run routes as crisp as the other guys, and if the ball’s in my area, I know I can get it. That’s when everything started though. I went 5-0 and got moved up to the varsity level. I came in as the second-string quarterback in tenth grade, played in five games and threw five touchdowns to Tommy Streeter. Since junior year of high school, the rest is history.

No matter where you play, you never hear the crowd. It’s not even on your mind. I don’t know why, because it’s loud, but you hear the offensive line tell you to speak up a little bit and you don’t even think it’s that loud. You step into another realm. The fans aren’t there, everything around you is black, and you just have the field and the coaches and that’s it. The only time you recognize that the fans are there is when you get to the sidelines and you step out of that realm. Then you start to hear everything. Other than that, being on the field is like being in a movie. It’s exciting, and it’s sometimes scary, when you see guys that are 300 pounds running at you. The good part is, I get to talk a lot of trash being the smallest. They’ll say, “we’re going to get you, we’re going to take you out of this game.” But when you take a nasty hit and get right back up, that’s when I start talking. Next thing you know you’ll throw a touchdown over their head. It’s fun how you can mentally mess with people like that. It’s fun being on the field.

Some people call the offensive line “the big uglies.” That’s what Jon Gruden told me at the Madden camp, he asked how my “big uglies” were doing. I told him, those aren’t my “big uglies”, those are my big babies. They’re the softest people on the team. They’re the most physical, but they’re the softest. I want to be on the front of the Wheaties box with them. I always tell them, I say we’re going to pose together on front of a Wheaties box. Hopefully we can make that true. I like those guys, they take care of me. They protect me. And at the same time, they love me, and I love them.

I was raised in a good home. I was fortunate enough to have my mother and my father with me, and I had my brother and my sisters. They’re a great family. I didn’t live in the inner city, but I didn’t live in a good neighborhood either. My neighborhood still had kids that had to deal with a lot of things inner city kids deal with, just not as much. I grew up moving a lot, probably from when I was born up until eighth grade. I moved six or seven times in that span. I first lived with my mother’s mother, then I moved in with my father’s mother, then into apartments, then back with my mother’s mother. We finally moved into where we are now, in Carol City, which is where we’ve been for a while.

Playing football has given me a great window of opportunity. I’m the type of guy to make sure I have good relationships with everybody. I never burn any bridges with anyone, at least not on purpose. I’m a pretty good guy, so I make sure I maintain the good relationships I have with people.

The Golden Era is going to be a great era. He started off with U Tough, getting the best out of us, and it brought the best out of me and it showed me where I can be and how hard I can work. He’s a great coach. He’s someone who’s inspirational. He’s very passionate about what he does. He loves football, and he wants to make sure that we love the game of football. Everything we learn, we have a test on. We have to know the pillars, different fight songs, things about being better conditioned, about being tougher and smarter. Some people at the beginning looked at it and thought about what it would help us do. But if you can learn all of that stuff, and take the time to learn it, then it shows you that you can always spend the extra time to learn stuff on and off the field. It’s about unity among the team. I believe that in life, the small things make the big things work. The things we’re learning now are going to help us further down the line, and outside of football, later in life.

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