One of Indiana's top prep football players, a big-play speedster committed to Indiana University, could only cheer on his teammates on this rainy Friday night. A concussion had done what opponents couldn't — stop him.
Harris wore his Tigers' red jersey with his white 7 number. An umbrella served as fashion statement more than rain protection. When the offense was finished racking up touchdowns against winless Lafayette Harrison, he talked with quarterback Connor Christiansen about the action.
Tenth-ranked Fishers (4-1) didn't need Harris in its 35-13 victory, but that wasn't the point. He only has perhaps nine more games in his high school career. Missing any of them is painful.
Harris felt pain that had nothing to do with his head.
“It was tough, but it was one of those things, we were playing a team not worth the risk. This is my second concussion. It would not be good to go into college with three concussions, especially a season-ending one. So we played it safe.”
Harris was hurt during last week's win over Avon, when he took a big hit while making a clutch catch late in the game.
“I'm feeling better. Every day is getting better. The headaches are slowly starting to go away. I'll have to take impact test. I'm looking forward to passing that and playing again.”
Harris plays beyond his 5-9, 161-pound size, mostly because it's hard to tackle what you can't catch. Harris has a 4.37 40-yard dash time on his resume. He qualified for the state track meet with a personal best time of 10.93. He was part of Fishers 10th-place state 400-meter relay team.
“He's so elusive; he has so much shake,” Fishers coach Rick Wimmer said. “He's got great hands. He's not just a fast guy, a speed guy. He has big hands for a guy his size.
“A lot of times speed guys don't know how to run routes. He's a good route runner. He understands the position. He's a special player. We missed him tonight. Hopefully we get him back next week. We're looking forward to that. He makes a big difference in our offense.”
Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, rates Harris as the state's No. 12 overall player. Another national service, Scout.com, rates him as the state's No. 16 player, and No. 73 receiver nationally.
Wimmer has called Harris the best punt returner he's ever had. Wimmer has coached for 30 years.
“He has a knack for finding open space and making guys miss. He has good speed, and for his size, he's a strong kid.”
Harris spent the first four games producing the kind of numbers you'd expect from one of the state's best players.
He had 24 catches for 472 yards and four touchdowns. His 19.7-yard-per-catch average reflected his 4.37 40-yard dash time. He also had averaged 16.5 yards on two punt returns.
He was a key factor in Fishers' 26-25 win at Avon, totaling 99 yards on eight catches. He also caught six passes for 131 yards and a touchdown in Fishers' 48-45 three overtime win over Westfield.
Last year, Harris had 38 catches for 527 yards and five touchdowns. The year before that, it was 33 for 478 and four TDs. He's also returned three punts for touchdowns.
Harris had previously committed to Ball State before IU made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Part of it was his relationship with receivers/quarterback coach Kevin Johns, as well as current Indiana receivers Kofi Hughes and Isaiah Roundtree.
Harris also saw the success receiver Shane Wynn has had with the Hoosiers. The 5-7, 170-pound Wynn is similar in size, style and speed to Harris. Last year Wynn caught 68 passes for 660 yards and six touchdowns. This year Wynn has averaged 20.6 yards on his nine catches. Three have been for touchdowns. He's also returned a punt 58 yards for a TD.
Harris has similar ability, and IU coaches hope to use it.
“Basically they've told me to do everything that Shane is doing. That kid is amazing. They spread the ball and get him the ball a lot. I'll do what I have to do. I'll do what they tell me to do.”
That opportunity, which included IU's Kelly business school (Harris plans to major in business), was too good to pass up.
“The business school, the educational background, is amazing, especially after you graduate as far as the job rate,” he said. “In football, they use the spread offense. I see how they use a guy similar to my size, That played a huge role.”
It also helped that IU led the Big Ten in passing last year, and is doing so again this year.
“The offense is always high octane,” Harris said. “That played a huge role.”
A lot of major colleges didn't recruit Harris because of his size, even though he performed well against Big Ten-bound defensive backs at summer camps.
That's irrelevant now. In a year, he'll get his Big Ten shot.
The plan is next week, in his last Homecoming game, this time against Class 5A No. 5 McCutcheon, he'll get the chance to play and thrive.
The umbrella, you figure, will be left for others.