Two years ago Will Harris was the second rated high school safety prospect in the country and on his way to compete for playing time as a freshman for the top ranked University of Southern California Trojans.
However, a series of knee and ankle injuries ended both his freshman and sophomore seasons before they ever really began.
Truly healthy, Harris now hopes to get on the field any way possible, and with more practices like he had on Wednesday, it will be hard to keep him off.
"My day was basically just working hard and being aggressive," Harris said on Howard Jones Field after practice. "(I was trying to) show off a little and let the coaches know what I can do because I haven't played in two years."
Harris' day included more highs than lows. He welcomed freshman Joe McKnight to major college football with an absolutely devastating hit during the 11-on-11 running scrimmage and he intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass later in practice.
"Like I said, it's been two years," Harris said about the hit on McKnight. "It's been building up and it had to come out some how.
"The shoulder pads make a big difference. It separates people; it separates the men from the boys."
However it was not all good for Harris; after his interception, tight end Dale Thompson came from behind and stripped him of the football.
"I didn't see him at all, it was a good play," he said about the strip. "I just took my lap and came back in here."
For Harris, the most important part of these early practices remain his health and getting back to being the budding college star he was two years ago.
"So far it's going good, health-wise everything is fine," he said. "Basically, I'm just happy to be working hard again."
Harris understands that the starting safety jobs seemed destined to be filled by the trio of Taylor Mays, Kevin Ellison and Josh Pinkard. But he remains positive and confident about his ability to contribute to the team.
"I just have to worry about myself right now," Harris said. "Wherever the coaches want me to fit in (I'll play).
"Yes sir, I will," Harris, when asked if he'll take pride in his special teams duties, authoritatively said. "Most definitely."
Beautiful, sunny day for some violence on Howard Jones Field. There were literally too many big hits to keep track of. The good news about each one is that the guy getting hit seemed to relish the contact a little bit.
Personal favorite quote of the day: Carlisle to Griffen - "Keep your helmet on 93; you're not that good lookin'!"
2009 recruits in attendance: Matt Barkley and Kevin Graf.
Remember all that shadow boxing going on during the summer throwing sessions? Well that's escalated to full-blown boxing matches (in a brotherly way, of course) in fall camp. The under-card had Stanley Havili and Luther Brown exchanging pleasantries, with the main event featuring Vincent Joseph v. Vidal Hazelton. Look for upcoming events to include: Alfred Rowe v. Joe McKnight and Sed Ellis v. Kristofer O'Dowd.
After McKnight caught a screen-pass and reversed field, a la you-know-who, the defense ran him down after only a few yards. Every defender, especially Rowe, was all too eager to point out that 'this isn't high school anymore'. McKnight didn't seem to be phased by the D-level trash talk.
Stafon Johnson had a real nice day running, but a mental lapse caused the entire practice to stop for a minute. Johnson flicked the ball at Will Harris after a decent gain, Coach Carroll went on a profanity laced tirade about how that's not how SC plays ball, and beating the other guy is enough satisfaction. I saw a couple moms putting the 'earmuffs' on their kids, a-la Old School.
Some good one-on-one battles between the two lines today. Charles Brown handled LoJack and Griffen, and looked like a nice replacement for Radovich. Sed blew through Matt Spanos, twice and then proceeded to bark at O'Dowd for the rest of one-on-ones. "You suck, O'Dowd. I thought you were supposed to not suck, O'Dowd," (and repeat) was pretty much the gist of it. It had a hint of good spirits to it.
DaJohn Harris had a tough day. He spent the majority of the afternoon on the ground. He did, however, come back to have a real nice move on Nick Howell which seemed to get both sides of the ball excited for him.
Brandon Carswell thought his yellow jersey would get him some protection from being hit during 11-on-11s. It didn't.
Allen Bradford has "Monster in this Game" tattooed on his back. Seems fitting.