Raiders Great makes BC Lions

Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin
Andrew Harris ran roughshod through Canadian junior football – all the way to the CFL. The Vancouver Island Raiders’ grad has made the B.C. Lions’ 46-man roster for 2010. “It was definitely nice to hear that I made it,” Harris said. “Now it’s just doing what I can to get on the field.”

Interestingly, the 23-year-old made the Lions not as a running back, but as a receiver. He began camp as a running back and even started the first pre-season game in the backfield before he was asked to make the switch. “At first I was kind of down about it because I felt like I was doing really well so it was kind of shocking,” said Harris. “But then I sat back and looked at the big picture and I think it’s going to be a good move for me.” American Jamal Robertson ended up winning the starting tailback job with the Lions, but a trio of Canadians – Harris, Jamall Lee and Jerome Messam – were impressive enough that general manager Wally Buono opted to keep all three rookies and release veteran Canadian fullback Lyle Green. “Wally said to me, ‘I still know you can play running back … The more you know the easier it’s going to be for you to get on the field,’” Harris said.
The position switch meant that training camp was doubly challenging. As it is, camp is a grind, Harris said – it’s “eat, sleep, football, meetings” every day for two and a half weeks straight. Add to that a whole new playbook and a whole new position and things got a little hectic. But with the help of teammates and coaches and a lot of studying, he excelled. He started the second pre-season game as a receiver and made one catch, ran all his routes correctly and performed all his blocking assignments. “It’s a whole new world,” Harris said. “It’s learning little advantages, techniques to get open better. The terminology is totally different that what we’re used to, too. There’s a lot to learn but it’s been going well.”
When he talked to the Bulletin on Thursday, Harris had just finished taking a few extra reps after practice returning kicks. If he can’t be a running back, he’s prepared to be an all-purpose athlete for the Lions. “Wherever they put me, whether it’s on special [teams] or returning or receiving or a running back, whatever it is I’m going to do the best I can to make a play.” Because the moment he gets his hands on the ball, he essentially becomes a running back. “That’s something that I think is in the back of their minds,” Harris said. “It’s definitely going to be in my mind, too, when I get that ball and use my running back skills to my advantage.” He doesn’t know yet if he’ll start out on the 42-player active roster, but making the 46-man roster means he’ll be getting his paycheques so he recently secured a place in Burnaby. It’s a long ways from his girlfriend, who is starting med school in Winnipeg, and their daughter, but Harris knows this is his shot. “I don’t know what to expect once the season gets going; with junior I kind of knew what to expect,” he said. “It’s going to be a really fun year and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen.”


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