Lindenwood University’s Connor Harris acknowledged on Wednesday that he had an interview with the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Senior Bowl and characterized it as “a blessing”.
Pittsburgh Steelers Showing Interest In Connor Harris
Harris is no stranger to accolades. In high school, he was voted to the Missouri All-State team twice, won the Missouri 6A defensive player of the year award and was the Kansas City Star Player of the Year. But when the recruiting process was over he found himself with only one Division I scholarship; an offer from Northern Illinois. Popular prep recruiting website www.rivals.com missed Harris’ skillset too. “I was a 0-star recruit, I didn’t even have a page on rivals,” Harris commented.
Fate had different plans for Harris. Northern Illinois switched defensive coordinators and his scholarship offer fell through. But he kept his eye on the prize and decided to stay in St. Louis to play at Division II Lindenwood University.
Even then, his confidence never wavered, “I knew everything would work out. I had seen guys with a lot of stars do nothing in college, and I also saw guys like me, with no stars, who went on to be extremely successful in college,” he said.
Extremely successful is putting it mildly. His list of college achievements is beyond extensive. He received the Cliff Harris award as the National Defensive Player of the Year for Division II, Division III and NAIA schools. He was the Conference Defensive Player of the Year, a three time All-American and, he’s the NCAA all-division record holder for career tackles with 633. Just let that sink in for a second. To rack up that many tackles he had to average over 13 tackles per game over his whole career. “I pride myself on not taking a play off. I really give 100 percent every play,” he stated humbly.
Harris is part of the growing trend of FCS players looking to successfully transition to the NFL. Last year, Carson Wentz, an FCS player from North Dakota State University was taken second overall in the NFL draft. This year the Senior Bowl featured 10 FCS invitees. “I didn’t really know what to expect going in to the first practice, I was nervous and anxious to play with the best competition that there is,” he acknowledged When discussing his Senior Bowl experience.
But Harris was confident in his performance, “I feel like I did a really good job. I feel I showed scouts and coaches that even though I did play at a small school, I went out there and didn’t miss a beat. I was able to compete and play really well against guys from power five schools.”
When we talked about the NFL he had high praise for the Cowboys’ Sean Lee, and Steelers own James Harrison, “I really look up to Sean Lee. I feel like he’s a great linebacker, super smart, loves being a football player, he plays with great speed and passion. I watch film on him as much as I can and try to mimic my game off of his. I also look up to James Harrison, he’s a work horse. He was an undrafted guy and he’s had to work for everything he’s had. Just watching him, whether he’s in the weight room or on the field, he’s making plays and has a passion for the game. I feel his love for the game is unmatched, and I really look up to that.”
He also acknowledged that with all of his achievements comes some added pressure to prove himself, “I think a lot of people know what I did in Division II football and want to know if I can compete at that next level. It is what it is,” he said. “I try not to put any more pressure on myself than I need to. I just try to go out there and compete and have fun and enjoy the ride.”
Harris has always had success on the gridiron. Perhaps that’s why almost every team in the NFL has shown some interest in him. “During the Senior Bowl I was interviewed by almost every team,” he acknowledged.
Don’t be surprised if this 0-star recruit from St. Louis, who couldn’t get a Division I scholarship, starts collecting accolades on Sundays sometime soon.