New Team and Number, But Same Old Confident and Self-Assured Nick Harris

Dan Raley

In the NFL draft aftermath, Jacob Eason, after dropping to the fourth round, vowed to prove everyone wrong who questioned him as a pro quarterback. 

Nine other University of Washington football players weren't drafted at all, with half of them expecting this outcome but the other half no doubt surprised and disappointed.

With all of this pro football despair circulating through the program, Husky center Nick Harris was the only one who emerged from this process feeling upbeat and welcome at the next level.

In this order, he went to the Cleveland Browns as a fifth-round pick, wowed the team beat reporters in his typically well-spoken and confident manner on a conference call, and on Wednesday unveiled his new pro football number.

He's 53.

Three digits lower than he was at the UW.

"New number, new energy," Harris tweeted.

He'll wear a jersey made famous across the NFL by Hall of Famer centers Mike Webster of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mick Tinglehoff of the Minnesota Vikings and Alex Wojciechowicz of the Philadelphia Eagles and Detroit Lions.

Harris shared with the Cleveland media how he fully expected to redshirt in his first college season and gain some strength. He was just 17 and 275 pounds. 

Yet he learned the UW offense fairly quickly, showed he could play violently and eventually became a starting guard as a freshman.

"Taking a year off from football sounded horrible," Harris said

He told how he closed out that season facing Alabama in the College Football Playoffs.

He spoke about learning the O-line trade from Pat Harlow, his JSerra High School head coach in California, a former highly decorated USC offensive tackle and Morris Trophy winner, and a first-round pick and a seven-year NFL player for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders.

"He's a great resource to have," Harris said. "He's an idol of mine for sure."

With six-year NFL veteran J.C. Tretter fully established as the Cleveland center, the Browns already are thinking of ways to get Harris on the field. They'll try him at guard at times, making that known right away.

No arguments from their new acquisition from Seattle.

"I feel comfortable at guard, wherever I can get on the field," said Harris, always a selfless player as the late-season video shows.

Harris was confident and matter of fact as he explained to the reporters in a virtual news conference how his leverage enables him to get the best of his opponents and offset a perceived lack of height. He measures out at 6-foot-1 and 302 pounds. 

While his Husky teammates were scrambling to try and rebuild football reputations and convince NFL teams to give them a chance, Harris simply stepped up in Cleveland and did what he always does.

Fit right in.

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