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Harris overcomes injury, relishes final season on the field

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Courtesy of West Texas A&M Athletics

West Texas A&M left tackle Terrance Harris (71) moves against McMurry defenders Oct. 26 in Abilene.

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On the football field, things can change in a matter of seconds.

For Terrance Harris, a routine offensive line versus defensive line practice drill changed the course of his fall, spring and summer.

The West Texas A&M senior was looking forward to a big final season as a Buffalo in 2012, but a shoulder injury shortly after the season opener against Colorado State-Pueblo changed all that.

“I was ready and we were playing the No. 1 team in the nation,” Harris said. “We lost the game then two days after that, I got hurt.”

After being granted a medical redshirt, the former Harker Heights standout is taking advantage of another year and hopes to help the Buffaloes close out the season as Lone Star Conference champions.

Harris suffered the injury during one-on-one drills in practice when he tore the labrum in his right shoulder.

During his football career, Harris never needed surgery, but he said that injury felt different. An MRI two weeks later confirmed his instincts and he got word his injury would require surgery.

“That was my season to go out perfectly,” Harris said. “But I had to focus and get prepared for the next year and come back strong.”

Harris’ perseverance has paid off all season and he’s enjoying some of its rewards.

Protects blind side

The former Knight started every game this season and is currently in the most important position on the offensive line, left tackle.

Harris protects the blind side of West Texas A&M right-handed quarterback Dustin Vaughan.

“He’s got the backside of the quarterback and a lot of times he has the best rusher, so he’s really got to be pretty solid at what he does,” West Texas A&M head coach Mike Nesbitt said. “He’s done a good job at that and staying focused on what he’s got to do.”

The Buffaloes are a half-game behind conference leader Tarleton State.

The 6-foot-4, 285-pound tackle established himself as a standout for the Harker Heights Knights and had a big senior season in 2006.

That year, he earned all District 13-5A first team honors on offense and was a defensive second-teamer.

Harris chose West Texas A&M over Abilene Christian and Texas Southern.

“When I went down to W-T, I was pretty much sold,” Harris said.

Patience

Harris’ career at West Texas A&M has been a test of patience and adjustments since arriving at the NCAA Division II school in Canyon.

After graduating from Heights in 2007, Harris redshirted the 2008 season and first saw actions as a defensive lineman accumulating three total tackles in four games as a redshirt freshman and sophomore.

Harris made the switch to offense during his junior year in 2011 when he played in eight games and made one start on the offensive line.

The 2012 season was full of promise for a final season as a Buffalo before the injury cut it short.

Nesbitt said he was happy to see progress coming for a player who works so hard to get back on the field despite not being guaranteed an additional year of eligibility.

Harris’ dedication stood out.

“He’d be in the weight room every day and in the training room without knowing where you’re going to end up,” Nesbitt said. “You could rehabilitate and not get back to where you’re going to be, but he stayed the course and did a good job.”

Former Killeen Kangaroo and current Buffaloes offensive lineman Craig Watts said seeing Harris go through the rehabilitation made him focus on getting back from his offseason ankle injury that required surgery.

“It gave us no excuse to complain or try to have a pity party for ourselves,” Watts said. “It was pretty motivational. It showed his leadership ability and dedication to the team.”

For Harris, there are only a few of games remaining, but overcoming the injury made some of the more monotonous aspects of the game seem precious.

“I’m out there in practice excited, running around,” Harris said. “It’s a joy to be out there playing with those guys and those coaches. I’m ready to play for them.”

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Courtesy of West Texas A&M Athletics

West Texas A&M left tackle Terrance Harris (71) moves against McMurry defenders Oct. 26 in Abilene.

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