Will Harris adds to safety in numbers for Boston College football team

August 16, 2017 GMT

Will Harris learned what it takes to be a standout defensive back in the Atlantic Coast Conference and saw the rewards that come with the job.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound, strong safety from Suwanee, Ga., will assume the command position at the back end of the Eagles defense when BC opens the season on Friday, Sept. 1, at Northern Illinois.

“He’s big and fast and he’s done a great job and he’s had a great camp,” said BC coach Steve Addazio following yesterday’s practice at Alumni Stadium.

“He’s a heady guy who has played a lot of football and has the physicality to go along with it.”

Harris has played behind and alongside two of BC’s finest safeties in this century in his first two years at The Heights.

Justin Simmons ruled the secondary in 2015, played his best game against Notre Dame at Fenway Park and earned second-team All-ACC honors. Simmons’ leadership and effort paid off when he was selected in the third round by the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in the 2016 NFL draft.

John Johnson took charge last season and helped lead BC to a 7-6 record and a victory over Maryland in the Quick Lane Bowl. Johnson was second on the team in tackles (77) and led the Eagles with three interceptions. He was invited to participate in the Senior Bowl and was drafted this spring in the third round this year by the Los Angeles Rams.

“To see those guys get rewarded in that way was a blessing and all of us are out here with the same aspirations,” said Harris. “The first step is making this team better.

“Justin was a senior when I came in so more of my time was spent playing next to John. A lot of the things John did I incorporate into my game today and they left a huge impact on all of us.”

Johnson took over Simmons spot at free safety position at the start of last season and Harris won the vacant strong safety job in training camp. Harris started all 13 games and finished with 47 tackles, four pass breakups and two interceptions.

“There is a lot of responsibility at this position but this is my third go around, so I feel I have a good handle on everything,” said Harris. “I’m excited, it’s a big year this year and there is a lot going on in the ACC right now.

“We have our nose to the grindstone coming out here getting better at something every day. We come out looking to get better at something every day and continue to build on my game.”

Harris is ready to play up to the standards that Simmons and Johnson set for the secondary on one of the top defenses in the college game.

“There is definitely a standard here and a lot of guys have paved the way for us to be in the situation we are in,” said Harris. “We wear that on our shoulders every time we hit the field.

“We are looking to uphold that standard and raise the bar even more.”