Keginald Harris – Safety First
Gone are former AP All-American Carnell Clark and OVC Scholar Athlete/ESPN Academic All-American Josh Cain as our starting Safeties. The player with the most college-level experience at Safety will be a sophomore this season. Keginald Harris, #28, will line up at Safety this season for the Gamecocks. After a redshirt year in 2008, Keggie saw action last year on special teams and relieving the starters, Clark and Cain, at various times. When Keggie was on the field though, he made things happen. This is evidenced by his 25 tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 pass break-up, and 2 passes defended. Keggie was kind enough to stop by GamecockIllustrated.com headquarters for a word with us.
GI: You were a highly decorated student at Hazelwood High School not only on the football field, but off of it. Tell us a little about that.
KH: Yes sir, off the football field, I was class president, student council president, and an honor student. Playing football, I played both ways, quarterback and safety.
GI: Last year was your (redshirt) freshman year, and you were positioned to contribute mostly on special teams. You also saw some action behind Carnell Clark and Josh Cain in all of our games. This year, you’ll be a starter. Has that changed the way you are preparing for this season?
KH: It’s definitely changed how I’m preparing for this season. There are no senior safeties this season. It will be underclassmen that have to provide leadership this year. I’m preparing by watching more film, working harder, and communicating with my position coach, Coach Norwood more. My approach will be way different. This will be my first year as a starter. I want to do my part so that our defense will dominate the OVC. I don’t want to let anyone down – coaches or teammates.
GI: Tell us about playing for Coach Norwood.
KH: Coach Norwood is intense. He can get us fired up and ready for games. On the field, he is strictly business. Playing for Coach Norwood, you need to know your assignment and carry it out. You’ve got to do what you are supposed to do out there. We communicate a lot. Off the field, Coach Norwood is a friend. I can talk with him about just about anything.
GI: What is the toughest thing about playing Safety?
KH: Probably the hardest thing is reading the offense. We have to determine run or pass. You can’t go for the play-action, and you can’t let anything get behind you. If the other gets behind me, it’s trouble.
GI: Let’s talk about some of the other players on the team. Seeing our offense practice gives you a chance to see our talent. Who should we look for to stand out this season on offense?
KH: Calvin Middleton is faster and stronger. Also, “Cam”, Jeffrey Cameron. His skills are unbelievable.
GI: Who would you say are leaders on our defense?
KH: Monte Lewis and TJ Heath. This will be the last year for TJ and he can be very motivational. He wants to go out with a bang. I expect he’ll go on to play at the next level.
GI: Who have you learned from since being at JSU?
KH: I learned a lot from Josh Cain. Off the field, he was a straight-A student. He was an FCA leader. On the field, he was all football. He was a hard worker and did a great job. He kept his notebook with him, watched a lot of film, and took a lot of notes. He won so many awards, and deserved them. There is nothing negative about Josh Cain. I learned a lot from him.
GI: How will the change in quarterbacks affect the team?
KH: Marques Ivory has really stepped up in a big way. He won’t let anything stop him. He has a high level of confidence and can do the job. Last year, he had to start against Ga Tech, and in my opinion, did a great job against the team that won the ACC and went to the Orange Bowl. He can lead this team.
GI: Who is the fastest player on the team?
KH: AJ Davis, #20. He can move.
GI: Tell me about TJ Heath’s game last year against UT Martin.
KH: Coming into the UT Martin game, the 5th game of the season, we didn’t have any interceptions. The year before, UT Martin beat us. Coach Crowe told us the week of the game that it was a new year, a new season, and we needed to raise our level of toughness. We set the tone early, and TJ had 3 interceptions, running 2 of them back for touchdowns.
GI: Do you have team goals this year?
KH: Our goal is to win the OVC Championship and the National Championship. Last year was hard – we didn’t have the chance to make the playoffs because of the APR, but we wanted to play our best. We didn’t want to have a let-down. I’m looking forward to this season. There’s a lot to play for.
We also want to play as a team. To me, team means Together Everyone Accomplishes More. We’re going to play as a team this year. We’re out to prove wrong anyone that says we can’t accomplish our goals.
GI: Did you consider going to schools other than JSU?
KH: UNA and Alabama A&M were some other schools that were looking at me. There were others too. I wanted a new football atmosphere. I wanted to major in Business, and JSU has a great business school. When I visited, I liked the coaches, the facilities and the environment.
GI: What do you do when you’re not on the football field?
KH: I like to play Call of Duty on PS3. I shoot pool in Stephenson Hall. I hang out with friends, and I watch a lot of film.
GI: I met your dad last year when he was here for fan day. He was a college athlete as well. Tell me about him.
KH: My dad is Tony Harris. He’s very supportive of me. Most people that know him know that he played football at Mississippi State. He actually went to Ole Miss his freshman year for football. He transferred to Mississippi State after that year. He and I are both looking forward to the Ole Miss game this season.
GI: You still have 3 years of football eligibility left. Do you have any plans for after college yet?
KH: I am working on a business degree. I want to work hard and have a successful career. I don’t want to be thought of or remembered as someone who went to college just for football. I just want to take advantage of the opportunity I have now.