De’Vante Harris grew up in Mesquite dreaming of following in his father’s footsteps.
“I grew up watching his highlight tape in my little Cowboys’ giddy-up when I was little,” Harris said. “Running around the living room. I would sleep in my pads.”
Rod Harris played for three teams in three NFL seasons, including seven games with the Dallas Cowboys in 1990. He remembers playing dominoes with Emmitt Smith, standing in the huddle with Troy Aikman and receiving advice from Michael Irvin.
“It was a childhood dream for me to play with the Cowboys,” said Rod Harris, a Dallas Carter product. “The way it happened and how it happened was kind of cut short, but it wasn’t their fault. I enjoyed the time I was there. Growing up in Dallas, playing for the hometown team, with that star on my helmet, you couldn’t have a bigger feeling than that. Doing something you love, too, ah, man, that’s a great feeling.”
De’Vante Harris, who, like his father, played at Texas A&M, visits Valley Ranch Friday during Dallas Day. The Cowboys play host to local prospects who played high school or college football in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
University of Houston receiver Demarcus Ayers, Alabama defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, TCU defensive end Mike Tuaua, TCU defensive tackle Davion Pierson, TCU offensive guard Jamelle Naff and TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin are other prospects expected to attend Dallas Day.
“I would love to play with anybody, but yeah, Dallas, that’s born and bred,” De’Vante Harris said. “My pops, he played with Dallas. Yeah, Dallas Cowboys with that star is special.”
Scouts see Harris as undersized at 176 pounds and worry about his strength. He benched 225 pounds only five times at the school’s Pro Day earlier this week.
But Harris has experience as a four-year starter who lined up in both man and zone for the Aggies. He finished his career with four interceptions and 28 passes defensed in 37 starts.
“De’Vante’s a competitor,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “He’s a guy who competed, played a lot of football. He’s really a savvy-type player and corner. He has made some big plays here. He’s another guy who’s been around football all this life and has got great genes from a dad who was a really good player, too. He knows what the game’s all about.
“He’s a great example of a guy who’s played a long time and doesn’t want football to end. He’s a guy who will do anything – corner and gunner on special teams and things like that. He’s just a football guy.”
Rod Harris still ranks as one of the best receivers and returners in A&M’s history. He caught 87 passes for 1,395 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons, with 2,180 return yards and two touchdowns.
But De’Vante Harris has no doubt he could have covered his father, who followed a three-year NFL career with seven seasons in the Canadian Football League.
“Tell him I said so, too,” De’Vante Harris said.
Confidence is among Harris’ strengths, but Rod Harris won’t argue.
“We always kid around like that,” Rod Harris said. “The funny thing about De’Vante is that he’s always got a big confidence level. He never thought he was small until he got to A&M, and people started telling him he was small. We never told him he was small, so he never thought he was small. His confidence is always high.”
2016 NFL Draft Order
April 28-30 in Chicago
8. PHI (MIA)
13. MIA (PHI)
43. LA (PHI)
61. NE (ARI)