Senior defensive back Jaquan Harris (Boston, Mass.) was featured in articles in the Boston Herald and Boston Globe today after his Gold Helmet Award win which was presented yesterday at the weekly New England Football Writers luncheon. At the lunch, the Herald's Jack Connolly and the Globe's Craig Larson were able to speak to Harris and head football coach Tom Kelley.
Boston Herald - Hard-hat wearing Jaquan Harris of Framingham State wins Gold Helmet
John Connolly Thursday, October 12, 2017
It's one thing to make five interceptions in a single college football game. It's quite another to play a varsity sport while working a 40-hour week for a construction company before heading off for night classes in pursuit of an accounting degree.
Meet Framingham State defensive back Jaquan Harris, who has both of those accomplishments on his resume.
Perhaps the biggest challenge facing Harris, who is one of 11 children and works to help out his family, is finding enough time to eat and sleep.
"Trust me, it's tough," grinned the 22-year-old Harris, who earned a Gold Helmet Award from the New England College Football Writers for his record-tying performance last Friday against Fitchburg State.
Harris, who learned about the construction job from roommate Max Joseph, goes through a back-breaking day. He reports to work at 7 a.m. and does everything from cleaning to breaking cement for Phoenix Construction Resources, Inc. of Winchester. When the shift ends at 3:30, Harris heads for practice at 4:50. On Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights,
Harris goes to class after practice.
"He hasn't been with us that long but he is a pleasant kid. The biggest thing in construction is attitude and he's a great kid. He's always on time. He willing to learn everything," said Joe Rekowski, the director of client services for Phoenix Construction. "I'm always kidding him that he has to get an interception for us. When he got five, he sent us the notice. I said, 'Dude,' I owe you lunch.' I'll see him tomorrow."
Harris, who attended the Cambridgeport Elementary and Baldwin Middle School in Cambridge, wound up at Quincy High School where he played on the same Presidents team that featured current Stonehill College backup quarterback James Lam.
Harris credits much of last week's success against rival Fitchburg State to his teammates.
"Mainly, it wasn't just me. There were the defensive linemen or the linebackers getting into passing lanes and tipping balls," said Harris, who claimed one of the interceptions was the result of film study. "I was on the right side. There was so much space. I always watch the quarterback's eyes. I love film. When I saw the play, I recognized it. I must have covered 30 yards to get there."
The five interceptions ties an NCAA Division 3 mark shared by 11 players, with James Patrick of Stillman College the most recent in 2002. Harris has eight picks on the season, a program record.
Framingham State coach Tom Kelley praised his senior DB.
"He's not only a great football player but a great person. He works to support his mom. He's a special kid," Kelley said.
Dartmouth senior quarterback Jack Heneghan won the large school Gold Helmet Award. Heneghan passed for 314 yards and three touchdowns to engineer the biggest comeback (21 points) in the program's 136-year history as the Big Green surged past Yale, 28-27.
Boston Globe - Framingham State's Jaquan Harris earns honors
By Craig Larson GLOBE STAFF OCTOBER 11, 2017
The numbers reveal commitment, talent, passion, and unbridled dedication.
Jaquan Harris, 22, is a determined young man.
The Boston native starts every weekday morning bright and early working for Winchester-based Phoenix Construction Resources, Inc. This week, he's on a site in Sudbury, cleaning, smashing concrete, breaking down walls, et al.
One of 11 children, and the youngest boy, he is paying his own way through Framingham State while living in an off-campus apartment.
Then Harris is off to a late afternoon football practice at Framingham State, where the 6-foot, 185-pound senior starts at free safety for the 5-0 Rams. By 6:30, the accounting major is off the practice field and in class until 9:30 or so.
"Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are long days, 6:30 in the morning till 10 at night," said Harris, a Quincy High graduate who, long term, wants to get into real estate.
But he is making his taxing schedule work.
On Wednesday, however, he to had alter his routine.
No construction attire or hard hat. Dressed in a freshly pressed white shirt and black bow tie, Harris was at Harvard University's Dillon Fieldhouse to collect hardware after his record-setting performance last Friday at Fitchburg State.
In a 32-16 MASCAC victory, Harris tied an NCAA Division 3 record with five interceptions — including three in the third quarter. He now shares the record with 11 players; the most recent was James Patrick (Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Ala.) in 2002.
Accompanied by coach Tom Kelley, the humble Harris was presented the Week 6 Division 2-3 Gold Helmet from the New England Football Writers. Dartmouth senior Jack Heneghan (24 of 42 , 314 yards, 3 TDs), who orchestrated the greatest comeback in Big Green history in a last-minute 28-27 win over visiting Yale, was the D1 recipient.
"The majority of those [interceptions] weren't from me — it the defensive line applying pressure, the linebackers being in the passing lanes, tipping the ball in the air, etc.," said Harris, who is the last line of defense for a unit that is yielding 12 points per game.
His first pick, on Fitchburg State's first possession, and ensuing 19-yard return, set up the Rams' first score. "Right then, I knew it was going to be a very good day," said Harris, who credited a tipped ball by linebacker Svenn Jacobson for his second pick. His final three picks, all in the third quarter, halted Fitchburg drives in Framingham territory, including his snare on the 1 when he was forced out of bounds.
"I watch a lot of film, study tendencies, and then I read the quarterback's eyes, and study his favorite targets."
At game's end, amid high fives, hugs, and back slaps from the Ram sideline, a few teammates noted that he could have had six. "There was one [ball] in which I did not dive," Harris acknowledged.
Then the chorus of texts and calls started flowing from family members up and down the East Coast, including from his mother, Sharon Phillips, now living in North Carolina.