Quarterback Harris ready to lead both on and off the field

Focused in: Jacory Harris awaits the snap in a 52-7 victory over Charleston Southern in last year’s season opener. Harris won the ACC’s Rookie of the Week award three times in 2008. Steve Root // First Impression Staff

Everyone has something to motivate them in life. Some are inspired to have a dignified job and others dream of a perfect family. Many grind hard for both relatives and friends, while another group strives for a higher education.

Jacory Harris believes in all of the above, with one particular person motivating him every step of the way.

One of Harris’s best friends, James Anderson, was shot and killed during his sophomore year of high school. He and Anderson were best friends since the third grade and shared a strong bond that carried over on and off the field.

“He is truly my inspiration,” the former Parade All-American said. “He was always with me since day one. That is someone I [have] been playing for.”

Anderson’s tragedy and Harris’s father have shaped the 6’4”, 190-pounder into the person he is today. No one has made a bigger impact on Harris’s life than his father.

“My father is my idol,” the sophomore quarterback said. “He has shown me he is a strong man. Most people don’t grow up with a father, especially in the neighborhood we come from. Like Marcus Forston, he didn’t grow up with a father. I’m one of those lucky few.”

With the help and inspiration of his father, Harris learned how to play football at local parks. However, it wasn’t love at first sight for him.

“I hated football,” said Harris, laughing. “There was too much running. I use to cry a lot. I grew to love it. I use to play defensive end, offensive tackle, basically every position except quarterback.”

Even though he is now the field general at the U, was a perfect 30-0 and won a national championship at Northwestern High School in Miami, there is a soft spot in Harris’s heart for basketball. Whenever he gets a chance, he heads over to the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center to shoot some hoops.

But don’t expect to see “J12” get into any pick-up games as he would never do anything to jeopardize his football career.

“We share our love of basketball together,” head coach Randy Shannon said. “Jacory is kind of a funny guy, always happy-go-lucky. He is up-spirited and always upbeat. He is always positive.”

To Harris, all of his teammates are like his brothers, and he doesn’t neglect his loving parents.

His number one goal at Miami is to do well academically and get his degree, so he can one day become a sports agent. Harris also has aspirations of playing in the NFL after graduation.

On the field, No. 12 thrives, always appearing calm and collected. He helped produce two come-from-behind victories at Duke and Virginia and on the season threw 12 touchdowns, completed 60.8 percent of his passes and held a quarterback efficiency rating of 125.8.

“The atmosphere when you’re out there in the field, just knowing thousands of fans, millions of viewers are watching you and you’re just having fun, I love it,” he said.

His “go hard” Mohawk and play on the field are representative of this. The patterns in his hair have characteristics like those of a jaguar. Harris is calm, smooth and sleek.

“I just want to be remembered as that person, no matter on or off the field, who remains calm,” he said.