Harris answers WVU's call
Forget the bravado, Kay-Jay Harris wasn't very confident that he could tough it out last Saturday. Sure, his West Virginia Mountaineers were battling their arch-nemesis Maryland, a team that had beaten them by a combined score of like 445-9 in the past three meetings, but Harris, WVU's star tailback, was nursing a tender hamstring.
X-rays had shown there was no tear, just a strain. Team doctors had assured him that he couldn't make the injury worse. Still, Harris said he felt about 65 percent at game time. "I said I didn't think I could go," Harris says.
(Quick sidebar: For all the credit Rodriguez got when he moved up the coaching chain from Tulane to Clemson to WVU because of his expertise in straining defenses with his spread attack, the biggest reason why he has built a legit top-10 program is his charisma and ability to relate to his players and gain their respect.)
Harris not only scored the Mountaineers' first TD, he ended up with 32 carries for 142 yards as WVU knocked off the Terps 19-16. Harris says he got so caught up in the moment he didn't even realize he played 58 snaps in the game, although he definitely felt like he just didn't have his normal burst to break the big run.
"If I had my legs I could've run for 200 on 'em easily," he says. More importantly, though, the victory gave the Mountaineers their first 3-0 start since 1996. "I think we answered a lot of questions," says Harris. "There's some guy at the school newspaper who kept saying there's no way in hell we could beat Maryland so it felt good to make him eat his words too. Of course, now everyone's gonna play us that much harder because they want to be the ones to knock us off."
Next week's trip to Blacksburg should be the only regular-season game left for WVU where an opponent is closer than a touchdown underdog.
The backstory: Last summer Currie was hospitalized after a fight with Seminole track athletes during the NCAA outdoor track and field championships after he was struck with a bottle and required surgery to repair three fractures to his cheekbone. Cromartie wasn't at that meet, but he is a member of the Seminoles' track team and was there when FSU's team was involved in a confrontation with Clemson runners at the ACC indoor meet.
Bruce Feldman is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His first book Cane Mutiny: How the Miami Hurricanes Overturned the Football Establishment is out in bookstores. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.