The curious case of Evan Harris may take a positive turn this weekend.
Harris is a senior linebacker for Miami University’s football team, the most experienced LB on the squad. He’s got 195 tackles in his RedHawk career. He was Miami’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.
And he hasn’t played a second so far this season.
“They said I’m going to get some playing time this week, so I’m going to show them why I should be starting,” Harris said Wednesday evening after practice. “That’s what I’ve been waiting for.”
Harris’ absence on the field has raised the eyebrows of observers who saw him play a significant role the last three years. He only made four starts last season, but played in every game and had 40 tackles.
He’s healthy and dressed for Miami’s first two games of 2012. So why hasn’t he played? That’s the question MU coach Don Treadwell was asked this week.
“There’s some good competition right now,” Treadwell said. “Evan’s doing some things as he keeps moving forward. It’s not like he’s gone in the tank.”
Asked if Harris was in his doghouse for some reason, the RedHawks coach replied, “I try not to keep a doghouse. The word I like better is competition, and then we kind of go from there.”
The 6-foot, 218-pound Harris, a Waldorf, Md., native, is not in the most recent two-deep lineup. He said he got beat out of a starting job by Jaytee Swanson, Chris Wade and Pat Hinkel and was told he needs to step up his overall game.
“They’re seniors also. I guess they had a better camp,” Harris said. “The coaches told me I had to be a senior leader. I’ve got to get back to the way I was playing. I guess I dropped off on my intensity, so they just told me to be more intense on the field.
“It was good competition, and good competition just brings out the best of us. That’s what I think. Now I’m back and ready to play.”
Miami linebackers coach Matt Edwards said he’s looking forward to seeing Harris’ role grow Saturday at Boise State.
“Evan’s been helping us in a developmental role over the last two weeks,” Edwards said. “What Evan brings to the position is great football acumen. He’s a model of anticipation and communication out on the field, which is very important at the linebacker position. He thinks the game, which allows him to play faster than he really is.”
Josh Dooley, Kent Kern and Collin Boucher are currently listed as the RedHawks’ backup linebackers. Dooley and Kern are true freshmen.