Remember Trent Harris, the Miami Hurricanes' sack leader everyone respected and raved about, the young man who saluted his older brother Troy, a paratrooper who served in Iraq, every time Harris pummeled the quarterback?
He's also the Hurricane who was snubbed last month by the NFL Scouting Combine, left out of the mix after nine other Canes were selected to perform and interview and test their skills in front of countless NFL coaches and executives and media members — not to mention a national television audience.
"It was a little disappointing at first, just because when you watch it on TV, you always want to be out there,'' Harris said Monday night. "But God has a plan and it was just more motivation for me."
Now, UM's rotating defensive end, who has his last college class Wednesday and will graduate with a major in public relations, awaits the NFL Draft that begins at 8 p.m. Thursday and continues through Saturday. And if you think NFL teams haven't noticed him, think again.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
"He’ll be on a team for sure — 100 percent,'' Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz told the Miami Herald last week. "We’ve had a lot of people ask about him. He’s visited squads. It's just a matter of where he goes. In terms of productivity, when we watched him from last season and a year ago doing everything right, Trent was amazing.''
Harris, 22, is from Winter Park and will leave Coral Gables to head there to be with family during the draft. He finished the season with 37 tackles, 8 1/2 sacks, 10 1/2 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and tied for the team lead with six quarterback hurries, all as a rotating backup because the Hurricanes' defense was so dominant.
Harris' four-year college career, despite a fractured left hand in 2016, has been undeniably successful. He started 19 games and has played all three linebacker spots. Coaches nicknamed him Toolbox Trent because he is smart, equipped to handle any situation and is relentless.
So, why the snub? At 6-2 and 250 pounds, Harris is considered undersized for a defensive end. But that hasn't stopped him from manhandling quarterbacks.
"I love defensive end, hand in the dirt, getting to the quarterback,'' he said. "Who doesn't love getting to the quarterback? But I'm pretty versatile, so wherever the coach needs me, that's where I'm happy to play.''
Leading to UM Pro Day, Harris trained with Tony Villani at XPE Sports in Boca Raton.
"My body feels refreshed,'' Harris said. "I'm training my butt off like I always do and hoping for the best. As long as I get the opportunity, I'll take full advantage of it and do what I can to try to make a team. Late rounds or free agency, it doesn't matter."
On Tuesday morning, ESPN analyst Mel Kiper listed Harris as the 23rd best defensive end in the draft, with former UM starter Chad Thomas as the 14th best. Kiper projected that Thomas is the 149th best player, regardless of position, in the draft.
Thomas, 6-5 and 281 pounds, had 41 tackles, 5 1/2 sacks, 12 1/2 tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries this past season.
"People can say whatever they want, but I love football and I'm a football player and when I go out on the field I'm going to make plays,'' Harris said. "I stay out of projections. When the time comes, I'm either going to get my shot or not.''
Former UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, now at Alabama, told the Herald in February that Harris will play in the NFL.
"He's got special pass-rushing skills,'' Kuligowski said. "He's a guy that can play on every special teams. He's very smart. If Trent gets drafted late, he'll be a steal.''