Linebacker Charles Harris had a late start to his football career but made an immediate impact once on the field. Now he's confident his college success will translate at the NFL level.
Charles Harris was a late bloomer when it came to football, as his career didn't begin until his junior year of high school. After a brief yet impressive start, Harris committed to the University of Missouri where he redshirted as a freshman in 2013 and waited his turn behind seasoned pass rushers for his time to shine.
Harris's patience paid off and he exploded on to the scene in 2015 as a starter, leading the SEC with 18.5 tackles for loss (seven sacks) en route to second-team all-conference honors.
"First and foremost, I was part of the game plan," said Harris, reflecting on his college career at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. "Just go get the quarterback, that was really my assignment. Didn't really have that many responsibilities in regards to containing the edge and stuff like that. It was just a different game plan (than 2016) for the most part."
And the game plan definitely changed at the end of the 2015 season with a change to the coaching staff along the defensive line.
"It was pretty tough. But I'm a savage, so I can adjust to any type of coaching staff," Harris said. "I can adjust to any type of game plan, whatever it is. So I had a new coach, I had a new coordinator, I couldn't cry about, couldn't throw a fit about it. I had to adjust, I had to adapt, I had to survive in my environment. So that's what I did."
Despite the adjustment, Harris followed his breakout season with 61 tackles (12 tackles for loss) and nine sacks. He earned second-team All-SEC honors for the second year in a row. With that, Harris decided to forego his final year of eligibility and enter into the 2017 NFL draft.
The 6-foot-3 253 pound linebacker has a great first step, a great spin move and is explosive off the snap. His quickness and movements are best used against the quarterback.
"I got here by sacking the quarterback. That's not a secret," Harris said. "So I feel like most teams are gonna play me how I'm supposed to get played. That's me getting the quarterback. Me covering when I need to cover. When it's necessary, me playing special teams. Things like that. I'm big, I'm athletic, I can move. So really using my how I'm supposed to be used."
When it comes to pass rushers, teams are definitely looking in the direction of Harris as he is projected to be selected in the first round. With the draft starting on Thursday, Harris is confident his time will come within the first 15 picks.
"Definitely first round. Hands down," Harris said. "Top 15 at the least. That's really how I feel. I feel like my natural ability, my upscale is just amazing. I feel like I'm still raw at the game, I'm young at the game. I think coaches all know that I'm yearning to learn more, I'm eager to be better. I'm eager to be great."