Friday, August 31, 2001
[ UH WARRIOR FOOTBALL ]
Harris hot handsChannon Harris knows the first step toward solving a problem is realizing you have one.
The UH slotback started catching
the ball more consistently just in
time to keep his starting job
By Dave Reardon
The Hawaii slotback has never been in denial about the fact that he's dropped a football or two, sometimes at inopportune times. In fact, he lists his most memorable moment in UH football history as fumbling his first reception, two seasons ago against USC.
And although the easy-going senior from Culver City, Calif., has been able to laugh and smile about his miscues, make no mistake -- he's worked hard to improve his pass-catching ability.
Yesterday, Hawaii coach June Jones said he plans on making no changes to the starting foursome of receivers of last season, despite intense heat from waves of capable new contenders. That's partly because of Harris' improvement.
"If I'd caught half the balls I dropped last year we would have been a much better team," Harris said after making several tough grabs in practice yesterday. "I feel I'm catching the ball a lot better. My concentration is there, but I've got to keep doing it throughout the year. I just ran the routes and caught a lot of balls over the summer."
The 5-foot-8, 162-pound Harris caught 36 passes for 530 yards and three touchdowns last season. That's quite a, well, drop from his 1999 numbers of 56 receptions for 860 yards and six TDs. Receivers coach Ron Lee said he expects Harris to bounce back strong.
"He's way ahead of last year, catching the ball a lot better and running the routes a lot faster," Lee said. "He really had a great camp. The competition is really tight, but he's got a good understanding of what we're doing."
Harris said he's no longer haunted by past drops, and that allows him to concentrate more on his route-running.
"I still bust a few (reads)," he said. "I'm not too worried about making the catches now, but I've got to always make the right reads."
The other starters are splits Ashley Lelie and Justin Colbert and slot Craig Stutzmann. With Harris, they combined for 3,117 of the Warriors' 3,875 receiving yards and 22 of the 25 touchdowns.
"Oh yeah, I see us starting the same four guys," Lee said. "They're all a lot better. Everybody's getting better and the competition is great. It's helping them focus in. The other guys are right there and it's a long season so they need to be ready. I like it."
Splits Tafiti Uso and Neal Gossett and slots Gerald Welch, Britton Komine, Chad Owens and Clifton Herbert are all ready to play, Lee said. True freshman slot Nate Ilaoa just needs more repetitions, Lee added.
Ka Leo O Hawaii