Sports

Decatur grad Darin Harris back healthy in Husky secondary

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

Decatur High School graduate Darin Harris is back.

The former All-State safety got the official OK to return to the field for the University of Washington football team earlier this spring after sitting out last season with a cracked vertebra in his back. It's an injury that began to give him trouble during the 2005 season, when he started four games at safety and played in all 11 of the Huskies' games as a sophomore.

"He's knocking the rust off," UW defensive backs coach J.D. Williams told the Seattle Times. "He's excited, running around having fun again."

Harris, a 2004 Decatur grad, is currently working as the Huskies' No. 2 strong safety and with the starting nickel defense package.

Washington opens its season on Friday on the road against the Syracuse Orange inside the Carrier Dome. The game will be nationally-televised on ESPN at 5 p.m. The Huskies finished 5-7 a year ago.

Harris' back injury was diagnosed after the 2005 season, and he didn't participate in spring ball a year ago. After initially hoping he'd be back for the regular season, he was also ruled out and spent his days rehabbing and attending position meetings, but doing little else football-related.

"There was a point in time where I was skeptical [if he would ever return to football] because the injury was going on for so long," Harris told the Times. "But I said a lot of prayers. I said in the third grade I was going to come here and play, and play in the NFL, and I still plan on doing that, and no one and no injury is going to stop me from reaching my dream or my goal."

He officially was cleared to practice before spring practice started at UW in April.

"I think he is different," coach Tyrone Willingham said. "I think he's a little more confident about what he is doing. I think the spring was rough because you're never sure physically where you are when you come back after you sit out that long. You're kind of hesitant about using your body, about throwing yourself in there, about being involved."

Harris said he might be in the best shape of his life.

"I think I can make a difference," he said.

Other Federal Way district grads playing college football:

Lance Witherspoon — The Decatur graduate is currently listed as the starter at right defensive tackle before his junior season at Eastern Washington University. Witherspoon played in 10 games and had 29 tackles and two sacks last year. As a freshman, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Witherspoon played in nine games and tallied 14 tackles as a defensive lineman.

Eastern opens its season Friday against Montana-Western in Cheney.

Anthony Dotson — The Federal Way grad is currently listed as a starter at rover on the Eastern Washington roster. The senior defensive back played in seven games and had 20 tackles and two interceptions. Dotson intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards in the Eagles' opener last year against Oregon State.

Chris Corey — The Decatur grad is an offensive lineman on the Western Washington University football team. The 6-4, 270-pounder plays both guard and tackle and played in nine games last season, including three starts. Western opens their season Saturday at UC Davis in California.

C.J. Green — The Federal Way grad returns to the Western Washington football team for his sophomore season. Green is a defensive back for the Vikings and played in four games last year.

Rodell Razor — The Federal Way grad is now playing defensive back at Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande. Razor transferred from Western Washington. Razor played in 10 games and had 24 tackles and three interceptions.

Johnny Lopez — The Federal Way resident and Kennedy High School grad led the Central Washington Wildcats in rushing last season with 609 yards and four touchdowns. Lopez played his first two seasons at Glendale Community College. Central opens the season Sept. 8 at home against Humboldt State.

Aaron Gilbert — The TJ grad is the starting weakside tackle for Central Washington. Gilbert is a 6-3, 301-pound sophomore.

Jared Bronson — The TJ grad transferred to Central from the University of Washington last year and is playing tight end for the Wildcats.

Reggie Ford — The Decatur graduate is currently playing wide receiver at Central. He caught five passes for 23 yards and returned 20 kickoffs for 335 yards.

Jimmy Ivory — The 2006 Federal Way grad is a running back at the University of Puget Sound. He played in one game and rushed four times for seven yards last year.

Cory Haywood — The 2006 TJ grad is playing cornerback at the University of Puget Sound.

Michael Oates — Oates is in his sophomore year at the University of Puget Sound. The Decatur grad is a 6-3, 210-pound tight end.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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