Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Central High School

Football

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Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 06:14 PM

DuJuan Harris admits it doesn't feel quite right sitting home watching football on a Sunday.

In his mind he belongs on the other side of the screen, where he was during the 2011 NFL season through the end of the most recent preseason.

Cut by both the Jacksonville Jaguars and Pittsburgh Steelers within less than a week last month, the 2007 Central High graduate hasn't lost hope, but has gained perspective.

"It's a waiting game right now," Harris said. "It's a part of the game. It's something I don't want to go through. I was hoping I didn't end up in this situation, but you can't control how things happen in this league and how decisions will be made."

Harris, 24, remains in Jacksonville, where as an undrafted rookie out of Troy University he played last season and appeared in five games, rushing nine times for 42 yards and catching one pass for four yards.

He also returned 14 kicks for 308 yards, a 22.0 yard average.

"It was a blessing. It was a privilege to actually play for (the Jags)," Harris said. "I could be back. You never know.

"I feel like I started off in a great organization. The guys who were around that year, some of them are still there, too, they taught me a lot. They took me under their wing."

Coming back to the Jags this season under new head coach Mike Mularkey, his opportunities during the preseason were few.

Prior to his release from the team on Aug. 25, he had run the ball three times for 13 yards and registered a 4-yard reception.

On Aug. 27, he was claimed off waivers by the Steelers. Three days later, he played in the team's final preseason contest, a 17-16 home win over the Carolina Panthers.

Harris played well in that one, carrying the ball 12 times for 45 yards and catching another 4-yard pass. Yet he was cut the following day.

"Things happen quick. That's one thing I realized about this league," Harris said. "They have a great organization up there. They gave me a certain amount of plays to learn.

"Being around them and being around Coach (Mike) Tomlin and seeing how he works, I can tell why they're the team that they are."

So now Harris waits to hear from his agent, who is working to find him a spot on an NFL roster.

"It's not a talent issue," Harris said. "If they went off talent, then I'd definitely be somewhere right now. I fell into a numbers game in some places.

"Things happen for a reason. Since I haven't been playing, I realize a lot of about the league and it has definitely changed my approach to my game.

"It's (the NFL) not what you think. You've got to be patient. It's tough to be patient, but you have to be."

He has worked out for a few teams, and firmly believes he won't remain unemployed throughout the season.

In the meantime, the man who still goes by the nickname "Foxx" assures everyone back home that he's holding up quite well, and certainly hasn't decided to quit.

"I have a lot of NFL years left in me," Harris said. "It's part of the whole waiting game. Some of the best guys have to go through it. It's not how you start, it's how you finish. I'm definitely looking forward to continuing my career. I know it's not the end."


cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com (352) 544-5288

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