College Football: UND’s Deion Harris Eyeing His Return to the Field
Deion Harris suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon last July while doing a non-contact conditioning drill
GRAND FORKS, N.D. —Replacing a player who was named an All-American after his junior season, was being looked at by NFL clubs, and led the FCS in 2016 with three pick six’s is no simple feat.
But that’s exactly what UND Football had to do when cornerback Deion Harris went down last July while doing a non-contact conditioning drill.
“When I had planted my foot to cut the other way it had popped on me, my Achilles tendon,” Harris said. “At first I was just in shock. I didn’t know what to think. I just knew my season was over.”
This was the reality for Harris just weeks before his senior season, and immediately the Fighting Hawks knew his absence wouldn’t be an easy void to fill.
“Anytime you lose a guy like him, you don’t have a bunch of Deion Harris’ just in your locker room,”defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt said. “He’s a difference maker in a football game and in a college season. It’s something that was tough for us to bounce back from.”
Harris wasn’t going to be able to make an impact within the white lines, however, he found a way to improve and make a difference a step behind them.
“I got used to partaking in the role of being a leader on the team,” Harris said. “Just focusing on the other players instead of myself really trying to help them improve on the field”
“He’s come to practice every day, listened, helped the younger guys, coached those guys along,” Schmidt added. “I definitely think he’s grown not only mental toughness wise, but I think he’s growing in knowledge of the game as well. I think he has a new perspective.”
While taking in new perspectives, he’s also taking major strides in his recovery.
“What we’ve seen out here is a guy that’s a fast healer, a guy that we’ve been really pleased with where he’s at in his rehab,” Schmidt said. “He’s exceeded our expectations as far as where’s he at.”
“I’ve just been in there day in and day out,” Harris said. “I never skip a day of rehab and it’s been coming along pretty well.”
Harris says he expects to be at 100% come mid-summer and is already dreaming about his first game back.
“I can’t wait,” Harris said. “It’s been too long. It’s been a whole year, year and a half since I got to play football, so I’m ready to go.”