Today The Duck Stops Here spoke with Cliff Harris, who is in an intensive training program at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, Indiana, preparing for a Pro Day, a shot at the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft.
DSH: Cliff, What's it like at St. Vincent and what are you working on?
Cliff Harris: Everything. We've got the best trainers in Greg and Brett, and they're getting my body ready. I feel like a new person.
Kash returns: Oregon's mercurial cornerback is looking for daylight and a new beginning at a sports clinic near the the site of the NFL combine (usatoday.com photo)
DSH: That's outstanding--what do you go through in a particular day?
Cliff Harris: We work out twice a day, and that's twice a day rehab after our workouts, and then I have post nutrition after. They really packin' it on me.
DSH: What are the meals like, is it really strict and regimented?
Harris: Not necessarily strict, but it's a routine and a regimen to my meal plan.
DSH: Cliff, you say you're working out twice a day, are you in the gym or out on the practice field doing football drills?
Harris: I'm on the field in the morning, and then in the afternoon we're in the weight room, hittin' the iron.
DSH: What are you working on?
Harris: Everything! Getting bigger, stronger, and faster.
DSH: At Oregon, you were listed at 5-11, 165, have you made any gains to this point?
Harris: Yeah, I'm 13 pounds heavier.
DSH: Really, seriously, you're at 178?
DSH: Where are you staying when you're at the camp?
Harris: We stay at the Embassy Suites, but I practically live at the St. Vincent Performance Center.
DSH: Do you get much free time, and what do you do with your free time?
Harris: My free time is dedicated to getting better. My free time I'm just sitting around, getting familiar with the guys, that's what I'm doing in my free time.
DSH: You're training with some great players.
Harris: Some Very great players. You know, they push me every day.
DSH: Ronnie Hillman is there, and the receiver from Boise State.
Harris: Tyler Shoemaker.
DSH: Yeah, he's a good ballplayer. Do you find working with those guys is helping you in your development?
Harris: Absolutely. We're all out here, on the grind, and every one aspires to play in the NFL, so when one falls off the next guys picks him up. We count on each other, in our workouts, it's just crazy, everybody gettin' better.
DSH: It has to feel good getting back to football after the dismissal and the difficulty you had at Oregon, just being out there playing football and getting better has got to be a great feeling.
Harris: It's the greatest feeling ever.
DSH: How did you hear about St. Vincents, Cliff?
Harris: Through my agent.
DSH: Who did you sign with?
Harris: With Maximum Sports.
DSH: Terrific. So how long does the program run for you?
Harris: It's another five weeks.
DSH: Okay, that will take you right up to the NFL combine, which runs through the 22nd through the 28th of February?
Harris: Yes sir.
DSH: Do you think you'll be ready by then?
Harris: I think I'm ready NOW, but you know I can always keep getting better, and getting more ready.
DSH: Have you heard yet whether or not you're going to be invited to the combine, or what it depends on, or how that will shake out for you?
Harris: Nah, I haven't heard anything, I just get better every day and control the things that I can control, and that's my body.
DSH: That makes a lot of sense, it sounds like a good focus for you. Now, St. Vincents runs a Pro Day of their own in early February, will you participate in that?
Harris: Well, I wanted to but I guess there's rules and regulations, so I don't think I'll be able to have my Pro Day here, but we'll see.
DSH: What about the Pro Day at the University of Oregon, will you participate in that one?
Harris: My answer is as good as yours, you know, I'm not even sure how everything is going to play out. We'll have to wait and see.
DSH: I'm sure you'll take it a step at a time; it sounds like your focus is on getting better and physically stronger and that has to be a lot of help for you. What are you working on technique-wise as far as the football part of it?
Harris: We do back-pedal drills and the ladder, working on our hands, the x's and o's of the game. We work on every aspect of it.
DSH: Who's your position coach?
Harris: Marlon Jackson
DSH: Former NFL player--has he been helpful to you? What have you learned from him?
Harris: Very helpful. He's been like a mentor to me and I've been learning a lot.
DSH: Is any of the time devoted to NFL-specific things, the combine testing stuff like the 40 time, the bench, broad jump, the 3-cone drill and the vertical jump, are you doing anything that centers around getting prepared for those tests?
Harris: Oh yeah, with my strength and conditioning coaches Greg Moore and Brandon Johnson I'm getting all of that work in. They're getting my body in the weight room in the afternoon and we'll be on the field in the morning. We do a lot of dynamic stretching. They're getting my body right. I'm loving it.
DSH: What do you see as your strength as a potential NFL player, and what do you think you have to improve on the most?
Harris: I think I need to improve on the most, everything about my game. And as far as the strength of my game, it's everything. Everything has to get better and everything is my strength. Most importantly is just my heart, the love that I have for the game.
DSH: One thing that always impressed me watching you play was your closing speed, great anticipation with the ball in the air. Is that something you really look forward to bringing to the NFL? Going against the best receivers in the world, how do you feel about that challenge?
Harris: I mean, I don't back down from no challenge. I feel like I'm one of the best in the world, so I'm ready to compete with the best in the world. If I'm given that opportunity. I don't shy away from competition.
[Part two of The Duck Stops Here interview, in another hour of so, when our slow staff typist (me) finishes transcribing.]
From Mike Wines of Oregon Duck Soup, here are the highlight from Harris's All-American sophomore season at Oregon:
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