ECU's Harris continues to amaze|Wideout in midst of stellar season

Published 3:16 am Thursday, November 4, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Brian@wdbweb.comm Sports Writer
It’s so easy to take brilliance for granted.
It’s seems like forever that East Carolina wide receiver Dwayne Harris has been catching passes and making plays as a Pirate, but when he takes the field for the team’s 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Navy this Saturday it will be the second-to-last home game of his college career, so catch him while you still have a chance.
The senior wideout stands as the school’s all-time leader in receptions (230) and receiving yards (2,628) and simply rewrites the record book every time the ball hits his vacuum-like hands.
Harris has caught a Conference USA-leading 63 passes this season, six of which ended in touchdowns, while racking up 750 receiving yards.
The electric receiver seems to get better with each game too. This Saturday, in ECU’s loss to Central Florida he set a career mark for receiving yards in game when he caught nine passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Harris is recording 7.9 receptions per game, which the sixth best total in all of the FBS, and at that rate he would break his own Pirates’ record of 83 catches in a year (which he shares with Aundrae Allison) at home in the regular season finale against SMU.
The reigning first-team all-conference receiver and special teams player of the year is four TD receptions away from tying East Carolina single season record and is six away from being tops on the all-time list.
East Carolina’s first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley has been around some top-notch receivers during his time at Texas Tech, most notably Michael Crabtree and Wes Welker, and said that Harris ranks up there with the elite.
“He’s up there with those two. I don’t know if he is in front of them or behind them, but when you get guys that are that good it’s just …. You’re are either at that level or you’re not and he is,” Riley said. “There is nobody better than him in the country. I know there’s not. I have seen everybody … He may not get the recognition that the others do but there is nobody better in the country (at wide receiver) I promise you that.”
The 6-0, 205-pound juke machine from Stone Mountain, Ga., will wrap up his career as arguably the best wideout to don a purple and gold uniform, which is an amazing feat for someone who was recruited to throw touchdowns, not catch them.
“I never thought I would be having receiving records I always thought it was going to be quarterback records,” Harris said. “It’s just great (to hold those records), it’s a great job by the guys who have played with me. I give a lot of praise to those guys because without them I couldn’t have did it.”
Harris was recruited to play quarterback by running backs’ coach and former Pirate Junior Smith, who served during the Skip Holtz regime. However, a logjam at the position forced Harris to consider playing wide receiver. He considered it and now it’s considered one of the best decisions he has ever made.
“It was funny how I ended up being a receiver. I came in as a quarterback and I went through my freshman season as a quarterback and then the spring after my freshman year they were thinking about playing me at receiver because we had a lot of quarterbacks: (James) Pinkney, Rob Kass, Brett Clay and so on,” Harris said. “So they were like ‘We are going to move you to receiver and try you out there. If it doesn’t work out after this season you can move back and compete for a starting position next year.’ I enjoyed my time at receiver … It was a great decision.”
Harris, who has completed three of his eight career attempts for two touchdowns and 154 yards, admits he still thinks about slinging the pigskin.
“You always have those times where you want to throw the ball once and a while,” Harris said. “I do miss it, but I don’t miss it. Playing receiver gives me the best chance to go to the next level. I never thought I would be one of the top receivers in the country.”
Harris also recalled another tough decision that he was forced to make early in his career that turned out for the best.
“I had Kentucky, Boston College, North Carolina, Southern Miss and a lot of other schools recruiting me,” Harris said. “At the end it was between East Carolina and Southern Miss.”
Harris said he was torn between the two schools but the dedication shown by Holtz and his staff gave the Pirates the edge.
“Throughout the whole recruiting process they stuck with me. I was a late qualifier because of my grades but they stuck with me throughout the whole thing. Southern Miss slowly dropped out. On signing day Coach Smith called me and asked what I wanted to do, so that’s who I went with.”
In his time at East Carolina Harris has made several highlight reel catches and big plays, but he said there are a few moments that stand above from the rest.
“The conference championship last year, winning MVP (during the Pirates 38-32 win over No. 18 Houston in Greenville), beating North Carolina at home,” Harris said. “There was the big win over Virginia Tech in Charlotte. There was just so many, but I have enjoyed every moment of being a Pirate.”