The Hurricanes’ defensive line has been a pleasant surprise this season. A large portion of the credit for that should go to Orien Harris.
Harris, a sophomore from Newark, DE, was inserted into the lineup last season after Santonio Thomas was injured. He recorded 36 tackles and one sack last year, and put himself in a position to earn even more playing time this season.
“My goal coming into this season was just to play a lot,” Harris said. “I never really thought I would be in the position I am in right now, but I just felt if I played hard and stayed positive, good things would happen.”
Harris’s experience in football comes from his family. His brother, Kwame, was the first round pick of the San Francisco 49ers out of Stanford last season. Harris also has a younger sister in high school. His dad owns a restaurant in Delaware, and his mom is a nurse.
Harris’s family helps motivate him on the field and has taught him a great deal about life.
“My motivation comes from my family who taught me to work really hard,” Harris said. “But mostly, it comes from myself because I go out there and give it my all every time.”
Harris came to UM as the top-rated defensive line prospect in the country by The Football News. However, making the adjustment to collegiate football is difficult. After a red shirt year, Harris started to improve. This season, he has made significant strides in becoming a better all-around player.
“Orien has excelled and really come a long way, he has become a student of the game, and is light years from where he was at the beginning of last season,” Defensive Line Coach Greg Mark said.
However, Harris still feels like he has room to improve and needs to learn more in order to become a better player.
“I think I have a long way to go before I consider myself good,” Harris said. “When I was a little kid I used to watch all the Hurricane games and I always wanted to play [for UM].”
On and off the field, Harris seems to have the same personality. He works hard, but loves to joke around and always has fun playing the game.
“I’m a hard-working, positive guy,” Harris said. “I just try to have a lot of fun out on the field with my teammates and it makes playing the game really easy.”
Harris has all the qualities that a coach loves to see in a player. He has passion, fire, and is determined to make plays to help his team win games.
“On the field, he is competitive, fierce, and he never wants to lose, and that is the type of kid you can win games with,” Mark said. “He is not comfortable with just being average, he wants to be the best at what he is doing.”
Even in practice, Harris shows his competitiveness and desire to succeed. His hard work has translated into success on the field, and has helped make the ‘Canes’ defensive line one of the best in the nation.
“He wants to win every rep when he gets in there and that is what leaders are created from,” Mark said. “In the years to come, he will become a leader and people will follow him because he has that type of personality and desire.”
Overall, Harris wants to keep getting better and enjoy his time at UM. A national title wouldn’t hurt either.
“I get along with people really well, and I am really happy to be playing here,” Harris said. “I am really happy that I am at the University of Miami.”