It’s been a tough last year and half for Montel Harris. Boston College’s all-time leading rusher in the college’s history has gone from staple of the offense that hasn’t had consistent success since Matt Ryan left to now out of the program entirely.
Montel Harris will need to overcome multiple knee injuries, character questions on his Boston College dismissal, and the heavy workload he’s already had in his career to warrant a draft pick int he 2013 NFL Draft. And he’ll get that chance, his final chance, at Temple University this football season.
Suffering a knee injury for a running back is about as terrifying and career-threatening as it could get. Generally, one knee injury will cause NFL teams to sweat if they are considering drafting the running back. But Harris had TWO left knee surgical procedures in 2011, seemingly putting an end to his college career and likely pro career.
However, Harris was granted a medical hardship waiver, and was set to have another “senior” season in college football to refuel his NFL Draft stock. With optimism abound for what another year could do for Harris, Boston College, and his NFL Draft stock, the injury bug bit him again. In spring practice this year, Harris aggrevated the injury, causing him to miss time.
It’s tough for any running back with 787 career carries in college already wearing down the “tread on his tires”, but Harris’s troubles would continue. This time, it wasn’t related to his knee or his play.
“Montel Harris has been permanently dismissed from our football team due to a repeated violation of team rules,” head coach Frank Spaziani said. “We are grateful for his contributions the past four seasons and will support him in completing his degree requirements and in his future pursuits.”
Now, however, as reported by @PompeysGridlock on twitter, Harris has been granted his transfer to Temple University. The 5’10, 207 powerful between the tackles runner will join previously slated starter Matt Brown in the backfield.
The Temple Owls had one of their best seasons a year ago thanks to the elite ability of Bernard Pierce. Pierce was among college football’s (and the 2012 NFL Draft’s) best running backs. Expecting a Pierce-like impact out of Harris is both unfair and unlikely. However, with the 5’5 Matt Brown being the jitterbug, deep play back, Harris could be the 15-20 carry a game workhorse for this offense that could use his stability.
Harris has good, not great speed, and struggles to get to his top speed quick. He’s not consistently powerful enough naturally to consistently win red zone power struggles, and doesn’t have elite change of direction. However, Harris shows patience up through the hole, plays with ideal pad level, which is crucial for a running back of his style, and has flashed some versatility as a runner. His production at Boston College was thanks in part to the offensive line talent Harris had, but also his natural insticts of positioning his body to gain extra yards after contact and attack openings in the defense.
His injuries will certainly be concerning for NFL teams with the 2013 draft process comes around, possibly even sealing his fate as a late rounder at best regardless of what his senior season holds at Temple. Plus, he’ll likely pass the 1,000 carry total in his college career, something only a handful of players have ever had in college.
It’ll be an uphill battle for the workhorse, injury riddled back. He’ll have a chance to thrive with Temple and be a major part of their offense. But he’ll need to show health, future longevity, and big play ability before NFL teams will give Harris a shot in the NFL.