Harris looking to finish strong at Temple

Upon arriving to Temple through an unconventional path, Montel Harris immediately sought out Matt Brown.

Striking the balance of fighting for carries as the new guy on campus, Harris wanted to make sure that both he and the Owls' incumbent running back were on the same page.

"We said what our goals were, and we both wanna be playmakers for the team, and that's what we're gonna do: Make plays to help our team win," Harris said. "If we can do that, we both should be successful. So we wouldn't be stepping on each other's toes or anything."

The fifth-year senior and active FBS career rushing leader is hoping that he and Brown can form the type of 1-2 punch that led the Owls' backfield last year, when eventual third-round draft pick Bernard Pierce teamed with Brown to carry the school to a nine-win season that ended with its first bowl win in 32 years.

After Pierce left for the NFL draft following a nearly 1,500-yard junior campaign, questions loomed about Temple's backfield depth. But Brown managed 947 yards of his own last season and, with a healthy Harris, figures to create a more than capable backfield duo.

Coming off arthroscopic left-knee surgery, Harris entered 2011 as the ACC's preseason player of the year. But he was only able to play in two games as a senior, and he was granted a medical hardship waiver in December before re-injuring his knee this spring.

Later dismissed by Boston College coach Frank Spaziani for "repeated violation of team rules," Harris joined former Eagles assistants Ryan Day and Kevin Rogers at Temple.

He brings along 3,735 career rushing yards, having broken Boston College's record last season.

"Well I'll just say I had a great experience at Boston College, and some decisions were made that didn't have me in the plans," Harris said of his dismissal. "So I had to do what was best for me, the school had to do what was best for them and I ended up at Temple coming with a couple of my coaches that were at Boston College."

Harris said his knee feels 100 percent through camp so far, and he thinks getting another year of eligibility — at what is now another BCS-conference school, no less — is a blessing.

Temple was picked to finish last in the conference at preseason media days. Harris wouldn't set any preseason goals short of a conference title, but he is intrigued by the idea of playing for a program that figures to have its best days ahead of it.

"I'm very happy to be part of a program that's on the rise," Harris said. "Through my whole college career, I've kind of been the underdog. Coming into this school not much is expected, but looking at the team and how we work, I feel that we're gonna do some big things in the Big East. And looking down, later on down the road, I feel that Temple can be a top contender in the Big East, and I'll be very proud to say that I was one of the first players to start being in the Big East in Temple."