GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Junior Tank Harris was working on a drill to defend screen passes, dropped back and made a leaping, one-handed interception (pictured at the top) that drew applause from his circuit group during Tuesday morning's practice at Memorial Stadium . The 6-foot-2, 290-pounder looks leaner this fall camp and he went into this past offseason on a mission to be able to make plays just like that.
The Chicago native caught up with UNDsports.com after the second full-padded practice of fall camp to discuss his body changes, his nickname, career goals and becoming a leader on a defense that has been on of the tops in the Big Sky over the past three seasons.
Tank Harris Q&A
Talk about the progress you've seen the defense make as we start to wind down the first week of fall camp? It was our second day in full pads, so guys are still knocking the rust off and getting accustomed to the defense. The young guys are starting to learn the plays and it's starting to click. It's starting to look more natural and when that happens, the defense starts to look a lot better."
You shed a little weight, trimmed up some in the offseason, what was the motivation behind that? "This offseason was one of my hardest ones. My biggest focus was working on flexibility, trimming off some of the pounds, so I can move a lot faster than I was last year. How'd you make that happen? "I changed my eating habits, stayed away from the fast food and intensified my workouts, focusing on my core. There are a couple guys on the team that are really good with that stuff."
Going into your junior year as an upperclassmen now and being a part of a veteran group on the defensive line, how does your unit take on a leadership role as a group? "We feel like if we provide a spark, then the whole defense will follow our lead. It all starts up front on both sides of the ball. For a lot of us veterans, it's not so much about what we're doing, but more about how we're doing it, especially with technique and I think that's the next big step we can take."|
How do you get a nickname like Tank? "Playing football the way I like to play it. I like to run through people. My mom gave me the nickname. When I was younger, I used to run into the refrigerator a lot and try to just knock it over. She would say, "Wow, you're like a tank," and it's stuck with me ever since then."
Coming from a big city like Chicago, how have you transitioned to life in North Dakota? "It was definitely a transition, but I'm definitely more comfortable now. I've been here almost four years, so it's almost like home to me now."
What do you want to do with your criminal justice degree? "I like working with kids. I don't know exactly what I want to do yet, whether it's with juvenile delinquents or counseling kids that make the wrong turn and getting them back on the right path. When did that become a focus of yours? "It's always been in the back of my mind. My Dad was a school teacher, so anything I can do to give back to Chicago or the community where I end up, that's what I want to do."
For an inside look and some pictures from this afternoon's "Photo Day" festivities at the Hyslop Sports Center check out both of our pages on Facebook and Instagram.
FCS Coaches' Preseason Poll
For the second-consecutive day, the UND football team found its name slotted in the Top 10 of a major FCS preseason poll. Today, the Fighting Hawks landed in the No. 10 slot in the FCS Coaches' Preseason Top 25 Poll after being pegged at No. 8 in the STATS FCS Preseason Top 25 Poll yesterday.
1. James Madison
2. North Dakota State (3)
3. Sam Houston State (2)
4. Eastern Washington
5. Jacksonville State
6. South Dakota State (1)
8. Youngstown State
10. North Dakota
Tuesday's practice marked the first appearance by National Football League scouts at Memorial Stadium this season as the Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and New Orleans Saints were all present at the workout ... Seniors Cole Reyes (safety) and De'mun Mercer (wide receiver) were the two players getting the most questions asked about ... The Fighting Hawks also added a player to the fall camp roster, moving that number of participants to its threshhold at 103 ... The newest member of the program is JUCO-transfer Teddy Sherva, who was teammates with fellow newcomer Tykeise Johnson the past two seasons at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn. ... Sherva rushed for 1,055 yards and 11 touchdowns last season ... Schweigert said his athleticism and speed are two things that caught the eyes of the coaching staff ... "He's going to help our football team," the fourth-year head coach said. "We'll find a role for him and want to see what he can do for us on special teams." ... Teams are allotted a certain number of walk-throughs during fall camp and UND will take part in its first of those this afternoon following picture day ... These shortened-sessions replace the second practice that used to make up "two-a-days" and last less than an hour ... "It's more for learning and retention and just giving our guys another chance to visualize what we want to see happen on the field," Schweigert said ... As for the practice, there were several nice connections in the red zone by the offense as that unit worked on those scenarios for the first time during fall camp ... Redshirt freshman Hunter Pinke made a leaping catch in the end zone for a touchdown (pictured here) ... Junior running back John Santiago also got loose on a wheel route for a touchdown reception ... Santiago was among 42 FCS players named to College Football Performance Awards Watch List for FCS Performer of the Year.
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