Ever since Will Harris was a young boy, he was enamored with football. Being the son of an NFL draft pick will usually do that.
Growing up, he wanted to be like his father, Will Harris, Sr., who was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the seventh round of the 1993 draft as a wide receiver out of Mississippi State. Though his father’s NFL career never panned out, the younger Harris says he always wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
When the Lions traded up to draft Will Harris in the third round Friday night, his dad was right there next to him in Atlanta. He told reporters on a conference call at the Lions facility in Allen Park his dad has been preaching patience throughout the draft process.
“Wherever you end up going, it’s just time to go to work from there,” Harris Jr. said. “It’s a huge blessing and this is the best day of my life. Detroit picked me up and I’m so glad to be a part of the organization and I can’t wait to go to work. He’s been preaching to me just staying patient and when your name’s called, it’s time to go to work.”
The elder Harris grew up playing wide receiver and his son wanted to do the same, but when BC came calling, it was time to make a difficult decision. After playing on both sides of the ball in high school, Harris ultimately decided to play the opposite side of the ball as his father, and it most certainly worked out.
Harris recorded 225 tackles, five interceptions and six fumble recoveries to boot during his college career and Harris Sr. was encouraging him all along the way.
“I switched over to the defensive side of the ball and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Harris Jr. said. “He played an integral part in my football career and in my life. That’s my father, that’s my guy.”
Lions general manager Bob Quinn said Harris, a three-year starter and team captain, is versatile, strong and fast. The Lions were particularly impressed with Harris at the Senior Bowl, where Quinn says Harris was “probably one of the better players.”
Detroit’s defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was an assistant coach at Boston College when Harris was there. Quinn said Pasqualoni vouched for Harris as a good leader with strong passion for the game. Quinn had visited Boston College practices a few times, as he knew several BC staff members from his time in New England, saying the Eagles had a “pretty good list of prospects this year.”
“There were lot of guys to talk through, including guys that were probably a little bit more, I’d say, ‘names.’ One guy went in the first round, Zach Allen went today. Really, the first guy that a lot of (Boston College staff members) mentioned to me was (Harris),” Quinn said. “Like, ‘This guy’s like heartbeat of our team.’ Not that those other guys were bad, they weren’t. They have a lot of good football players and a lot of good leaders.
“But this guy was voted captain on that team, on that defense. That spoke volumes to me.”
Harris Jr. says his dad was a coach, trainer and mentor for him growing up and to have him by his side when he got the call from Quinn and the Lions “meant the world” to him.
When asked whether he would tease his father over bragging rights about being drafted higher, he laughed and said absolutely not.
“I kid you not, the first thing he tells me when I get drafted, ‘Hey, I got the footballs in the trunk, we’re going back to work tomorrow.’ It’s crazy how it works out because I always wanted to be like him growing up and now he’s my biggest fan. Love that man to death.”