Football Fall Camp Feature: LaDarius Harris
Junior defensive lineman looking to continue steady climb in performance
HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- It would be an understatement to say that junior defensive lineman LaDarius Harris has taken to head coach Jay Hopson and his staff since they arrived on campus. As a sophomore in 2016, Harris doubled the tackle output from his freshman year (30-15) while starting the first six games of his career.
"I learned a lot with Coach Nicholson's style, and it's a lot different from my freshman year," he said. "It's more about attacking the gaps and using moves than from my first season."
Nicholson is also the right person for Harris to learn from as he progresses into what could be the best two years of his collegiate career. His first year leading the defensive line saw both Dylan Bradley (first-team) and Xavier Thigpen (honorable mention) honored by Conference USA. Bradley was second in the league for tackles-for-loss, and Ja'Boree Poole capped off his big senior year with a New Orleans Bowl-record three sacks.
Harris, a product of Pinson, Ala., made a nice early impression in Year Two in what were both big challenges for the Golden Eagles. He tied a career-high with five stops (including three solo stops) in a rainy battle with Troy on Sept. 17, then upped it to six tackles in Southern Miss' 34-7 road win at UTEP the following weekend.
The next two games saw Harris again tally five and six tackles against Rice and UTSA, respectively. He attributes his improvement to both his mental side and also working under new strategies.
"I learned the schemes a lot more than I had before," Harris said. "I've also been working multiple positions a little more and that includes playing more inside, so that's gonna be some good experience."
Harris speaks for himself on his personal growth, but also knows how the team can best reach its goals.
"We just have to continue to stay strong mentally when we are tired," he said. "It's got to be full speed every play like we are supposed to and throughout all our assignments."
Season tickets, flex plans, and group tickets for the 2017 Golden Eagle home season are still available and can be purchased by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office, weekdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Discounts are available for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens, military personnel, and recent Southern Miss graduates. The Golden Eagles open the 2017 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3 p.m. against SEC opponent Kentucky.
Previous Fall Camp Features:
July 31 - Julian Allen, senior tight end
Aug. 1 - Tim Billings, assistant head coach/safeties