SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Oklahoma gets set to take on UCONN in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with two seniors starting at safety. But looking ahead to next season, Javon Harris is a likely candidate to take over one of the starting safety spots in 2011. SoonerScoop.com's Carey Murdock talked to Harris about his emergence this season as a top backup and the prospects for his future during Fiesta Bowl Media Day.
You've obviously seen more and more action as the season has gone on and a lot of people look at you as the next in line with two senior safeties leaving. Could you just talk about what this year has meant to you and being a bigger part of this defense? This year, I've kind of found it as a developing year. I knew there was going to be two senior safeties coming back, so I learned a lot from it. I kind of took it as a developmental, learning year. Just knowing I could possibly be next in line, I just wanted to take each step to get better as a player.
Everybody knew what kind of an athlete you were coming in and maybe they didn't know where you could play or whether you were an offensive or a defensive guy. Has it been a little frustrating leading up to this point trying to figure out where you fit? In the beginning, coming in, I never really played safety and I played running back a lot. I didn't really know if I was going to be an offensive player or a defensively player. As time went on I kind of started growing into the position that they wanted me to play and I really just didn't want to give up on what they wanted me to play.
Moving forward, can you talk about the bowl practices and getting a chance to be a bigger part of the defense and actually working in the system more? So far, bowl practices have been good. I'm still getting the same reps. You always have to be alert so whenever the coach calls my name I want to be out there playing. As far as practices and having a different role, it's kind of different. But knowing my role is actually a bigger thing for me.
We've always been told that playing strong or free safety is interchangeable in this defense. Do you like playing strong more than free just because you're closer to the line of scrimmage at times? I feel like either one is good. Like everybody says, it is interchangeable and you can play either one. Coach Martinez actually wants you to know both when you're running it and I like strong because I feel like you can go into coverage but you can also come up and make a lot of plays. As you know, Quinton Carter plays free safety and he makes a lot of plays too. Either way, I feel like either one could be good.
You've got business to take care of here, but are you more excited for this spring than ever? Oh yeah. We do have to take care of business. But this spring, I'm really looking forward to knowing I'll probably be out there starting. Playing safety has been my goal since I've been here, so actually getting to show everybody what I really can do will be good.
It's always an adjustment for guys at the college level, but tell me what it's been like watching a guy like Tony Jefferson who came in and was just so good, so quick? He came in early and I came in early also. I let him know it was going to be hard but as long as you're doing what you've got to do - just seeing him grow into the player he's become, it's been good. He looks up to a lot of us and we give him good advice . Just watching him, you can tell he's going to be a great player.