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UT redshirt freshman glad to be back on field

09/16/2016, 12:11am EDT
By By BRIAN BUCKEY BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Center Harris makes most of playing time

UT redshirt freshman glad to be back on field

University of Toledo redshirt freshman center Bryce Harris made the most of his year off the football field.

Whether it was traveling with the team and getting used to the pregame routines or studying the technique of his roommate Ruben Carter, the preparation is already paying off.

Harris, a 6-foot-3, 295 pounder from Akron Firestone High School, started both games this season and has fit in with the veteran offensive line around him.

“Not being on the field since high school, it’s just been really fun,” Harris said. “Last year being redshirted, I was actually granted the opportunity to travel. I was on the travel team for every game. Going through that whole process, making all the flights, going to all the games, it really prepared me for this year. When it came time for camp, I could just focus on myself and getting better for the team.”

Because he was able to travel, the first road trip as a Rocket starter didn’t include butterflies.

“Going to Arkansas State the first game there was really no nerves,” Harris said. “I knew exactly what to expect. I knew how long the flight was going to be. I knew the whole process with our pregame. Last year really helped me prepare.”

Harris has rotated snaps at center with junior Nate Jeppesen, and is playing alongside senior left tackle Storm Norton, senior guards Mike Ebert and Paul Perschon, and junior right tackle Elijah Nkansah.

Carter, a Florida State graduate transfer, was the center last season and Harris studied film extensively with Carter to improve his skills.

“Bryce, playing in high school was more of an offensive tackle, so moving to center here was more of a first-time thing for him,” UT offensive line coach Mike Hallett said. “But he had all last year to get adjusted to it. Ruben had never really played center before his arrival at Toledo and he had a very short window to get adjusted to that. Ruben did what he did based on his body of work as a player, but not as center. I think Bryce is coming up through the system in a different way, having had the redshirt year to really get accustomed to playing center and having all spring to master the craft and I think he is playing very, very well.”

Norton, who played with four upperclassmen on the line as a sophomore, said this group has taken it upon themselves to help Harris.

“We kind of took him under our wing and showed him the ins and outs,” Norton said. “He’s really taking it all in and doing really good with it. Talking from that experience myself, I was in the same situation he is being with four veteran guys, though being at tackle. Center is, I think in a sense, a little more important because you have to worry about snapping the ball as well.”

Harris said he is comfortable on the line surrounded by a veteran group.

“Playing next to them, even during practices, there is never a dull moment with them,” Harris said. “They are veterans. They know exactly what to do and when to do it. If I happen to make a wrong call or something, they pick me up. They’re really good leaders and it’s fun playing next to them.”

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com or 419-724-6110.

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Tag(s): College  Toledo