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June 21, 2010

In-depth with Maurice Harris

After breaking the story early Sunday evening of Maurice Harris's commitment to the Cal football team, BearTerritory was able to catch up with the high-three-star wide receiver out of Greensboro (NC) Northern Guilford to talk about his weekend sojourn to Berkeley.

On Saturday, Harris had said that he wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger, but after two full days of camp, his mind was made up.

"I just had a good time at camp," Harris said. "At first, I really didn't know for sure, but I started thinking about it while I was up here, and I really liked it. So, I just went ahead and committed, instead of waiting."

Late Saturday evening, after touring the Cal campus with his two Berkeley-bound cousins Keenan Allen and Zach Maynard, Harris walked into head coach Jeff Tedford's office and finally got things over with.

"It was yesterday evening, and we talked for a while," Harris said. "I just told him that, before we leave, 'Hey Coach, I just want to let you know that I want to come to Cal. I want to be a part of the team.' I looked at him, and he was just excited."

According to wide receivers coach Kevin Daft's evaluation, the Bears have quite a bit to be excited about. Daft worked extensively with Harris throughout the course of the weekend and told him both the good and the bad about his game.

"Oh yeah, I worked with him after every practice," Harris said. "During practice I worked with him, and a little extra after practice. He introduced me to a lot of things, and stuff that I need to work on, like my route-running and my timing on my steps-just taking everything slow instead of trying to rush to everything. He's been teaching me a lot, and I'm going to take it back and use it to make me better."

Harris is not as fast or explosive as Allen, but he says that his game speed could very well be better than his speed in a combine setting.

"It's between 4.5 and 4.6; I haven't clocked a more recent time," Harris said of his 40-yard-dash times. "I feel like I'm a lot faster in-game, when I get the ball in my hands, then when I'm lining up against some guy."

One thing that Harris could have over his five-star cousin is size. At 6-foot-3 and almost 200 pounds, Harris is almost exactly as big as Allen-who is a year older-and has the frame to add some more muscle over the next year before he makes the jump to the college ranks.

"(Daft) likes that I'm a big, physical receiver that uses my body to get separation, and my strong hands-he really liked that," said Harris.

Harris will have to use all of the tools at his disposal to step up big time during his senior year for the Nighthawks. Last season, Harris pulled down 47 passes for 1,210 yards and 18 TDs. But, that was with Allen lining up on the opposite side of the field. Now, as Northern Guilford's top returning pass-catcher, he'll have to take on a lot more responsibility. And he'll be ready for it.

"I'm going to do a lot more, you know, just getting the ball in my hands more, which, I got it a lot this year, but it's going to be probably double that," Harris said. "I'm really going to have a lot of chances to make big plays."

One spot that he will likely see increased workload is in the return game, where he will again have to replace his cousin's performance taking back kicks and punts, though he's more than happy to cede that responsibility to Allen at the collegiate level.

"Last year, me and Keenan shared that, but he got most of those. But, I've done (returns) a lot, and this year, coming up, I'm going to have to do everything," Harris said. "I'm going to do kick returns, punt returns, quarterback, receiver, defensive back-I'm going to have to do it all, so I'm looking forward to it. But, Keenan's a big playmaker, and I'll have to leave that up to him (in college)."

Harris and his parents were accompanied by Allen on the plane flight out to California, and the presence of both Allen and Maynard on campus during the family's tour, and off-campus during the off hours this weekend helped to firm up Harris's decision.

"I've pretty much been with my cousins the entire time. They've been showing me around, showing me everything that they know," Harris said. "We talked about (committing), and then they just told me to make my own choice, don't worry about anybody else, just make my own decisions. So, I did what I felt was best."

Maurice's visit to Berkeley was his second. Last year, he joined Allen, Gabe King and Chris McCain at Cal's three-day camp as just a sophomore.

"Back then, I was young, and so I didn't really know," Harris said. "I was just out here playing ball, doing what I like doing. But, I took a different approach this time. I was more serious about it, and I was thinking about (the college choice) a lot more. I really liked it. I feel like this is the place I should be, so I committed."

While it was Harris's second go-around, this weekend was the first chance his parents had to check out the campus.

"We've been around campus a lot since we've been up here," Harris said. "They seem to like it, and I like it, too, so that's really all that matters. They've never been to the campus before, so that was a good thing, for them to get to see everything and how everybody is and how things work around here, so that was good."

Aside from his parents, cousins and future coaches, Harris also had a few chats this weekend with The Mayor, Mustafa Jalil-Cal's first defensive commit of the 2011 class who is quickly turning into the new Chris Martin as far as grassroots recruiting is concerned.

"I talked to Moose. I've been talking to him a lot, and that's really the only person I really talked to," Harris said. "He just asked me if I was thinking about going here, and I said, yeah, that it was one of my top choices, and that's what we really talked about. I haven't talked to him since I committed, though."


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