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August 27, 2011For some, playing football is more than just hard work. It is also a lot of fun. Coming off a year in which he registered team highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns, junior Mark Harrison is enjoying his time on the football field.
But the gridiron wasn't always his sanctuary.
"Football really wasn't in the cards when I was young," said Harrison. "My mom was big on basketball so she kind of pushed that on me. All of my friends actually played football but I was never interested in it or thought of it as being fun because I was always on the court 24/7."
It was the urging of a close friend that finally pushed Harrison out onto the football field as a high school sophomore.
"My friend back at home was always telling to come out ever since middle school," Harrison explained. "He played basketball with me also and he was always telling me I had talent, that I could go up and get the ball. So I just came out one day at tryouts. I liked it a little bit, but I didn't like it as much as basketball."
It didn't take long for that to change.
"I started figuring things out and adjusting to the plays that we were running and I started to have a good time scoring touchdowns," said Harrison.
Meanwhile, Harrison still maintained his place on the basketball court at Bunnell High School in Stratford, Conn.
"I played down low, I was a big dunker," he said. "I loved to go up top on people and catch alley-oops. I wasn't big on shooting but I would go up like Lebron James."
Slowly but surely, football started to become more of a major focus for Harrison even though he played in a lightly-recruited area of New England.
"We still had a lot of fans come out, especially on Thanksgiving games," he contended. "That was big back in Stratford for us on Friday nights. It was definitely a great feeling and a great experience. That's what really got me playing, it was kind of because of the fans."
Now, Harrison has no doubt that he went with the right sport.
"I'm so excited and blessed with what I'm doing right now that I couldn't think of any other place I'd want to be right now. I have no regrets."
Returning as Rutgers' leading receiver in every major category, things have worked out well for Harrison as well as the Scarlet Knights. Looking at how far he has come in such a short amount of time, Harrison cracked a smile as he summed up his football career.
"I'm really kind of surprised, I never thought I would've made it this far in football. I always thought I was going to go somewhere for basketball. It's definitely a blessing that God has put this in my life because being here has shown me a lot of things that basketball probably wouldn't have shown me. It's making me a better person and a better man."