Cuyahoga Falls High School graduate Chris Harris is enrolled at the University of Akron and on the Zips football roster as a walk-on.
Harris, who 5-foot-10¼ and 190 pounds, is practicing as a cornerback on defense.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” Harris said. “I get to stay around the people that I know in the area. I’m excited.”
Mike Miller, an assistant principal at Cuyahoga Falls, coached Harris in football and said he is thrilled about the decision.
“It’s a great opportunity for Chris,” Miller said. “He hasn’t had the blessing of having a very stable family, which you guys documented in the paper. He has come from a tough situation and now he has this opportunity in front of him.”
Harris’ mother, Tiffany Harris, passed away in a house fire in East Cleveland when he was 10 and he has never met his father. He lived with two different families this year.
There is one catch to Harris’ enrollment at UA.
“Chris is in the same spot as Jerome Lane of Firestone and Deon’Tae Moore of Kenmore, in that he is going to be a non-qualifier academically,” Miller said. “He is a very intelligent kid, and a great kid, too, but this will all be for naught if he doesn’t get it done in the classroom. He just needs to apply himself in the classroom, and I think he will.”
Harris said he vows to improve his grades to be eligible to play next year.
“Akron was looking at me during the season last year,” Harris said. “I know I need to improve academically to be able to play.”
Harris earned three letters in football as a tailback and cornerback on Miller’s teams. Harris received four letters in track and field as a versatile runner in sprint events, hurdles and relays for coach Keith Nelman.
Making an impression
For anyone who follows freshman Mykel Traylor-Bennett on Twitter, they know that the Reynoldsburg native arrived on campus for summer school and has been working independently with the team’s quarterbacks, including presumed starter Kyle Pohl.
It looks as if the extra sweat is leading to success. For the recruiting class of 2013, there’s little doubt he’s standing out. A 6-foot-4, 200-pound wide receiver, Traylor-Bennett definitely possesses the skill set to play wide receiver, snagging everything that’s catchable. Coaches have noticed, too.
“Because of what he’s shown, we’ve got to get him the ball. When we get him in any kind of scrimmage situations, we have to get him the football to see if he can make plays,” coach Terry Bowden said.
Traylor-Bennett spent some time working with the first unit for part of Monday’s practice, part of seeing what he has over the course of the next two to three weeks.
During spring practice, the offensive staff moved wide receiver L.T. Smith, who played outside receiver last year, to the slot position. That experiment is now over.
“After spring we felt he was still better at the outside position. Once we put him back there, he’s a year better. We gave him a look inside because he’s got a big body,” Bowden said. “It gives us a chance to get four receivers other there playing exactly where they played last year, so we should be able to get better having him at that position.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.