By TIM TUTOR
The New England Patriot rookies reported to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., last Saturday to begin the 2003 football training camp, and among the group was 6’3”, 285 lb. defensive tackle Brad Harris.
Harris, former Pontotoc High and Itawamba Community College standout, signed as a free agent with the Patriots last Wednesday.
He started all 25 games on the defensive line at Pittsburg State (KS) after transferring from ICC and was named a first-team All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association selection after leading the league with seven sacks in 2001.
The 23 year-old carries an NFL Europe roster exemption and registered 23 total tackles and 2 sacks this past season for the Rhein Fire as a New York Giant allocation.
“They told me Wednesday that they were running slim on the defensive line, and that they were needing some help.
“I was fortunate to get this call,” said Harris after Miami signed a defensive end in front of him.
“I think the grace period hurt me a little bit there.”
The south Florida team was interested in his services, but Harris was not allowed to enter into formal talks with the Dolphins or anyone else for 10 days after being released by the New York Giants back in mid-June.
Scott Pioli, New England Vice President in charge of Player Personnel and 11-year NFL personnel veteran, saw Harris at the Giants’ training camp last year.
“That’s how he knew who I was, so that helped me out.”
Pioli told Harris that it was good that he was in Europe because they have a lot of film on him.
“That helped both of us.”
Harris is confident of his abilities and what he’s all about.
“I told him that I just want the opportunity to make this club.
“I belong in this league, and I told him he could put me on special teams or whatever he had to do.”
The Pats run a 3-4 defense with two defensive ends, a nose guard, and four linebackers.
“I will be playing more at defensive end (his college position), and I’m excited about that.”
Harris and the rest of the rookies were put through a rigorous conditioning test last Sunday and began two-a-days on Monday.
Their first pre-season game will be August 7 against the New York Giants.