'Canes' Harris singing different tune

BY foxsports • September 10, 2010

Jacory Harris has been known to follow a different tune.

Miami's eccentric junior quarterback infamously predicted before last season that he would wear a pink suit and take a pimp cup to the Heisman Trophy ceremony if he was a finalist for the award. He also has an alter ego, J12, his calm and cool demeanor on the field that doesn’t get rattled.

Harris has also been known to extol the virtues of watching the children’s television show, SpongeBob SquarePants.

But even Harris’ teammates were caught off guard by his latest antics before last week’s season opener against Florida A&M. As they stretched in the locker room, Harris burst into a rendition of Trey Songz’s “Already Taken.” He crooned, “Every night up in the club getting money with the thugs thought I'd never fall in love. Then there was you. And I don't wanna be a player no more.”

As Harris sang, his teammates laughed, which only prompted him to sing louder.

“He really thinks he sounds good,” Byrd says. “But that’s just the way he gets in his zone.”

It’s a ritual that Harris plans to continue not only for the 12th-ranked Hurricanes’ game Saturday at No. 2 Ohio State, but also for the rest of this season. Not that his teammates mind, considering he threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns in just two quarters of the Hurricanes’ 45-0 blowout of Florida A&M.

“Hopefully, it’s a good sign,” Byrd says of Harris’ singing.

This season, though, Harris insists he’s toning down his act after making his pink suit and pimp cup comments. He doesn’t regret those remarks, but says he learned a valuable lesson from them.

“You can’t make predictions when you really haven’t proven anything yet,” says Harris, a Miami native who starred at powerhouse Northwestern High School.

But when Harris led Miami to a surprising 5-1 record to start last season, he looked well on his way to backing up his colorful Heisman talk.

Hurricanes fans created photographs of the 6-foot-4, 200-pound quarterback wearing a pink suit and holding a pimp cup while striking the Heisman pose. And after beating then-No. 8 Oklahoma in early October, Miami coach Randy Shannon talked about how Harris had allowed the televisions in the Hurricanes’ campus locker room to be turned only to SpongeBob so he and his teammates wouldn’t be distracted by the hype surrounding their early season success.

During the same game, Harris also drew attention by wearing eye black with rapper Jay-Z’s entertainment company, “Roc Nation” written on it.

Shortly thereafter, Harris was suddenly a Heisman Trophy candidate, but he didn’t feel like one. He kept telling himself, “Dang, why is everybody talking about me like this? I haven’t done nothing yet.”

“I put all the pressure on me,” Harris says, “and then things started to go down.”

Shannon, however, emphasized that Harris’ interceptions weren’t entirely his fault. He attributes some to Harris being greedy and trusting his wide receivers too much, but said others were caused by wide receivers not running routes correctly and the offensive line allowing him to be pressured.

“It was a conglomerate of a lot of things,” Shannon says. “But because it’s Jacory, they think it’s him.”

In January, Harris had surgery on his right (throwing) thumb to repair torn ligaments. He injured it when he hit it on a helmet in the loss to North Carolina.

Unable to throw during spring practice, Harris engrossed himself in watching video. He still longed to return, but questioned whether he would ever be able to grip a football like he was able to before his surgery.

“It was brutal,” Harris says.

In April, Harris resumed throwing. He says his thumb is now fine. He’s also being more cautious with his words.

“I’m going to have fun still, but a lot of things that I said before I won’t say now,” Harris says. “I guess I’m smarter about things.”

Shannon wasn’t bothered by Harris’ pink suit and pimp cup comments last season. When the two talked about what Harris said, Shannon said Harris told him that he made them in jest.

This season, Shannon said he has noticed a real change in Harris.

“He’s matured a lot,” Shannon says.

A vocal leader last season, Harris is even louder this season as a team captain, especially with the wide receivers, according to Byrd. He’s constantly challenging them to improve their timing and route running.

“He’s on us hard,” Byrd says. “He wants it to be perfect.”

Byrd said that the media has made too much out of Harris’ on-field alter ego, J12. He says it’s more of a nickname than anything else.

“Jacory is just Jacory,” Byrd says.

But Harris is still the big man on campus at Miami. This past spring when New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was working out at the university, he had Harris autograph a photograph for him.

It was from the Oklahoma game and showed Harris with his “Roc Nation” eye black. Rodriguez told Harris that he planned to give the signed photograph to Jay-Z.

Music is an essential part of Harris' life. When he’s alone, he likes to listen to Trey Songz as well as other R&B singers such as Usher, Lyfe Jennings and Chris Brown.

Harris is also prolific on Twitter at JacoryHarris12. He usually Tweets several times a day with interesting insights like, “A smile is a mask that protects you from your past. I got to keep a smile on my face. It's the only way to attempt to forget.”

On Thursday, Harris Tweeted a photo that showed him wearing Oakland Raiders overall shorts without a shirt.

“I’m a funny guy,” he says. “But I’ve got to understand that people are going to take things a different way.”

Yet for someone who doesn’t go near the water at the beach because he’s scared of jellyfish and sharks, Harris is fearless when it comes to hostile environments like the one he’ll encounter Saturday at Ohio State.

“It’s going to be wonderful,” Harris says. “I love it. Why play football if you can’t play on a big stage? It’s not interesting if the game’s not packed.”

Saturday’s game will feature Harris squaring off against his friend, Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor. The two often talk and text-message after being introduced to each other through Miami defensive tackle Marcus Forston.

“He’s tremendously talented,” Harris says of Pryor. “Love watching him.”

This season though, Harris would much rather talk about a bigger prize than the Heisman Trophy.

“I could be the worst quarterback in college football, but as long as we make it to the national championship, I’m happy,” he says.

But if Harris ends up being a finalist for the Heisman, just don’t expect him to break out the pink suit and pimp cup, at least in public.

“I might wear it around the house,” he says.

And if Harris does make it to the Heisman Trophy ceremony, be prepared for his singing.

“He’s got a thing to it that makes you want to listen to it,” Byrd says. “It’s bad, but it’s not that bad.”

Now, that’s a tune Miami could get used to if Harris can carry its winning way all season.

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