He is fearless. He is a team player. He always does what is asked. So it is easy to see why Dwayne Harris has been such a valuable member of the East Carolina football team.
Of course, Harris never thought he would be making headlines as a receiver and all-purpose player when he was starring in high school. Back then, he played quarterback and figured he would be a quarterback with the Pirates.
But after his redshirt season, the coaching staff moved him first to running back and then to wide receiver.
“They knew I was an athlete, and when I was on the scout team going against our first-team defense, they lined up me everywhere,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I never thought I’d be the type of receiver I am now. But it’s a blessing that I can use my God-given talents in so many different ways.”
Indeed, those talents and his versatility led him to an outstanding season. Harris was selected the Most Valuable Player of Conference USA, the first non-quarterback to win the award. He also made the first team as a receiver and return specialist.
College football fans will have their last chance to see him play for East Carolina on Wednesday, when he leads his Pirates against Maryland in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman. A Senior Bowl date and NFL future await. But first, Harris would love nothing more than to go out with a win.
It has been an up-and-down season for East Carolina, but the offense has thrived in the spread system under new coach Ruffin McNeill. That expanded opportunities for Harris, who set the single-season school records for receptions (93) and receiving yards (1,055) this season.
He will leave school as the career leader in receptions (260) and receiving yards (2,933) and needs two touchdowns to break the career record for receiving touchdowns, which Larry Shannon set from 1994-97 with 21.
As we mentioned earlier, Harris does more than catch. He also returns kicks, and occasionally runs and passes. Harris ranks fifth in the nation in all-purpose yards with an average of 171 a game.
When asked what makes him so good, Harris said, “I’m a guy who never quits. I’m never going to give up. A lot of coaches feel they can’t stop me, so I know they can’t stop me. It’s a good feeling for me.”
Harris hates calling for a fair catch on punts. Since many teams kick away from him, he wants to take advantage of all the opportunities he gets.
“I’m never scared. I’ve taken brutal hits and gotten up,” Harris said. “I’m a guy who’s always going to take chances on punt returns and kickoff returns, and that makes me dangerous.”
It also makes him an NFL prospect. At 6-foot and 205 pounds, he has good size, and his versatility is obviously a plus. He is projected to be a mid-round pick.
But he before he thinks about his future, Harris has one game left to play.
“I’m just going to try my all and take care of my business and everything else will fall into place,” he said.