University of Miami quarterback Jacory Harris has not let his concussion get in the way of his team spirit and good nature, say his teammates.
During the game against Maryland, Harris encouraged freshman starter Stephen Morris from the sideline, providing reassurance and helping him cope with his new responsibility.
The Hurricanes veteran quarterback is expected to do the same Saturday when UM (6-3, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) plays Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3) at noon in Atlanta. Even though Harris has been ruled out for the game, he will travel to Atlanta and continue helping Morris.
"He said he's been doing it for so long he kind of felt like a coach that day -- coaching up a young guy, a guy that looks up to him," said defensive tackle Marcus Forston of the quarterbacks' interaction last Saturday. "So that was a good thing."
Morris said after his second-half debut at Virginia that he had already begun to emulate his role model by staying calm and composed. "I learned that from Jacory, actually," Morris said last week. "Jacory is the calmest cat I've ever seen. I just try to mimic him in all the ways possible. ...It was all good."
Cornerback Brandon Harris believes now that Morris has emerged, the healthy competition between the two will only make the Hurricanes better.
"It really does a lot to build character and maturity on this football team," Harris said. "A lot of people don't look at it that way. They just look at it as a position battle and controversy."
Harris said the team is rallying around both quarterbacks.
"There's no picking and choosing on this team. Everybody understands we're in this together. Whatever outside forces say, and whatever they want to do to separate us, that's not going to happen.
"[Jacory] understands that he's down and he wants the freshman to be successful at this point. He has to do what he has to do to help this football team win. Jacory understands, and that shows a lot about his maturity and how much he really cares about this football team."
Center Tyler Horn believes Harris has too strong a will to be intimidated or upset about Morris' emergence.
"He doesn't really pay attention to that kind of stuff," Horn said. "He doesn't. He's our quarterback and his role is as our quarterback and that's the leader of the team. He knows that."
Said linebacker Sean Spence, who played with Harris at Miami Northwestern High: "I don't think it affects Jacory. If anything, I think Jacory is happy for him to [have gone] out there and won the game for this team.
"Just being the competitor jacory is, he wants the best for whoever is on the field.
Forston, another former Northwestern Bull, smiled when he was asked about Harris being out at practice again this week.
"You never know what's going on in his head, man. Like I've been saying, with all the things that happened to him, he's going to keep on playing and keep that smile on his face."
--SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN