Usually when a player sets or ties a new record, they live off the praise, but Jaquan Harris tends to just keep his head down and say thank you as he tries to not stand out. Unfortunately for him, he’s in the spotlight nonstop since setting the school record for interceptions in a game. Not only did he set a school record, but he also tied a national record that hadn’t since 2002.
For the historic performance, Harris received the Golden Helmet Award from the New England College Football Writers. The award is only given to one outstanding performer in each division in college for the specific region, but Harris could have done without all the hoopla and just settled for the thank yous from family and loved ones.
Harris can recall every interception from his football career and can even remember the play. For example, he recalls all five interceptions and the exact coverage during his five-interception game against Fitchburg. As he watched the film of his game, he described his thought process during each play.
Right away on the first drive, he knew it was going to be a special day after having a clean break on the ball for an interception.
“I saw the quarterback just throw it up there with no intended targets, so I just went up and got it. After the first one, I knew he was going to throw ducks all day,” he said.
Harris referenced the second interception as one of the most difficult because it was the hardest to track down. “The ball had already touched two hands before I even touched it. It got tipped by my middle linebacker and the intended receiver on the opposing side before I found a way to scoop the ball from my ankles. It was maybe five or six inches from the ground.”
After the third interception, by Harris, he knew he was in the zone. Harris has always strived to get three interceptions in a game. After the third interception, he knew he could get more he said “I knew right after that I was in the zone.” Harris described the feeling as just knowing that any pass in the air – no matter the target is his for the taking.
More than just being a stand out player, Harris is also a great leader due to his family ties and his work ethic. He had to mold himself into a lead-by-example kind of player, not playing off emotion, not being rowdy, but playing off his own trust in his technique.
Harris is one of 11 children from his family and he is the youngest. He was given a lot of responsibility from a young age becoming an uncle to many nieces and nephews. He uses many past experiences on the field to be a better leader, not only on the field, but in his family life.
Harris said he and his teammates are driven by the fact that do not know what will happen this season, so they must stay focused and determined. The outside life and school life work hand in hand for Harris. When he needs a haven, football has always been there and it has pushed him to be a resilient person.
“One motivation that could push me more than anything is my family. Everything I accomplish is for them,” Harris said.