PULLMAN – A football game with a natural magnetic personality, Travell Harris made a smooth transition from “young boy to vet” in early 2020.
The prominent Washington State slotback felt an obligation to take on the role of captain after former coach Mike Leach left the program.
“It was my time to get up,” he said.
He took it at a brisk pace, evolving into a guiding figure towards which WSU younger players and newcomers tend to gravitate.
“He has so much experience and so much knowledge about the game,” said Lincoln Victor. “Travell is one of those guys I always sit close to in meetings.
“When you really know the boy and you can sit and talk to him and see how he sees the game, there is no other person with whom I will sit next to him and play side by side.”
Harris, a fifth-year Cougar, will be one of 14 honored players Friday night for senior at Gesa Field before the WSU (5-5, 4-3 Pac-12) launches against Pac-12 opponent , Arizona.
In an extensive interview with Spokesperson-Review last month, the Tampa product confirmed that this will be its last campaign in Pullman. He will be filmed for the NFL Draft, instead of receiving an extra year of qualification – awarded by the NCAA in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s my last year and you only get college once, so I tried to appreciate those moments,” he said.
It has been a season that has largely tested Harris’ leadership qualities. He was one in a handful of experienced Cougs to take on extra tasks and help lead the team into a difficult situation after coach Nick Rolovich and four WSU assistants were sacked on 18 October.
“He did a good job saying, ‘Hey, let’s go – we’re all in this together,'” said interim coach Jake Dickert.
Harris, described by Dickert as an “emotional stimulus,” was apt for the added responsibilities.
“Travell is one of those guys who it’s passion. “He plays with passion, he lives with passion,” said Dickert. “He plays with emotions and I think he has done a good job of channeling those emotions and he has still done his best before. “When he turns around and feels good, when he is confident in what we are doing, then everyone else is.”
Good thing, because Harris is constantly called.
Weighing in at 9 feet and 185 pounds, it is a slippery ball holder that boasts an impressive ability to stop and go, detachment speed and safe hands.
Harris, who has appeared in every WSU game since 2018, will come down as one of the greatest of all time program. He has amassed 1,868 yards and 15 hits in 165 receptions. He is the school record holder for kick-offs and kick-offs, and is consistently climbing the WSU courtyard all-purpose career roster – Harris is currently fourth with 4,023 yards.
“I am trying to put my name in history,” he said. “I have a lot of things I am trying to achieve. I’m not done yet. You will see a lot after we finish this season. “
A two-time All-Pac-12 honoree for returning his shot and once for taking, Harris is in the middle of his best season at Pullman.
He has recorded 683 yards and seven points in 62 catches, and is ranked in the top 40 nationally on average kick-offs (21.8) and 15th on the return-shot average (10.3). Harris is on the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which recognizes the country’s most “versatile” player.
This year, Harris ranks third in the Pac-12 in taking yardage and sits in a draw for first in touchdowns.
“He always seems to play games,” Victor said. “He can be the last boy in progress and he is always open. When in doubt, find 1. Whoever takes him to the next level will have a good time, because he is a great player. ”
Asked to tell the scouts his elevator word, Harris said it “has to do with the heart above the height”.
“I’m not the biggest or the strongest, but I know how to do the job,” he continued.
Described as an electrifying violator of the game, Harris is safe on every road and welcomes the opportunity to line up in the backcourt.
“I can change a game with a heartbeat, to be honest with you,” he said. “I think I can do it all. Whatever the position in the attack, I can really do it. I feel like I’m an explosive guy, a dangerous guy who can score at any moment, no matter the situation. If I had to give a title to my game: I am electrifying and versatile. And with my character, I am very trained. This is one of the biggest things I’m proud of. “
Another big point of pride for Harris – he graduated last spring with a degree in sports management and a minor in business.
He has kept his options open for his post-football life and is thinking about a future in sports administration, perhaps – a general manager, agent or athletic director. His mother thinks he would be suitable as a sports broadcaster, given his optimistic attitude and cheerful gift.
“I just wanted to stay in the sports industry,” he said. “At the moment, I am focused only on football. I want to play as long as I can. “I’m just very passionate about the game.”
Harris said he is treating this season “like a pro year”. Having already graduated, he devotes his unproductive time entirely to yoga sessions to relieve stress and increase his flexibility, and otherwise devours the game movie.
“It’s a daily scratch,” he said. “As professionals practice and train, that ‘s what I’m doing.”
In the off-season, he enjoys traveling the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley on fishing expeditions and is often accompanied by several Cougar attacking lines. It reminds him of his home in Florida, where he would go freshwater fishing with his father, Willis.
The Harris family resides in the heart of Tampa. He has great admiration for his home state and gives constant memories that he is proud to be a “boy from Florida”.
He grew up idolizing Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning. Harris’s daily trip during his high school days took him to Bucs’s Raymond James Stadium.
His ultimate goal, he said, is to penetrate the NFL so he can “provide for my family” and return to his local community, which he said has struggled with poverty issues.
“Tampa everything,” he said. “I have a lot of people watching me at home. I am influencing many children. “
Harris spoke candidly about his upbringing in a family full of “newcomers.”
He praises his four older siblings for his preparation for real-world challenges and his parents for shaping his extroverted personality and work ethic.
“My mother (Lancie) is a far-sighted person – a happy, real person,” he said. “My father is a miller. I get it from here. I am a person who participates and I like to bring happiness to people. “
Harris noted that he was “blessed to see a different lifestyle” when he enrolled in a small private school, Jesuit High, where he played his preparatory career and earned All-State 5A honors as an old recipient. Also a brilliant track athlete, Harris was a two-star football prospect and landed on Cougs radar because of his versatility.
He took advice from prominent former WSUs like Dezmon Patmon, Easop Winston Jr. and Robert Lewis during a red shirt season in 2017, then quickly exploded a year later, exposing the high ceiling that Cougar fans see today.
“I did not want to wear the red shirt, but looking back, I am happy I did,” he said. “I felt like I was ready to go from the day I came here.”
Harris returned a 100 yard kick for his first career TD on September 15, 2018, against East Washington. He caught a third key pass from Gardner Minshew to seal the Cougs’ memorable victory at College GameDay against Oregon later that season.
He remembers those shows with longing because they came very early in a career that has produced countless key moments. Most recently, he amassed 109 yards against third-ranked Oregon on Saturday. On Oct. 9, he established a high career in courtyard making, burning the state of Oregon for 147.
In a room full of passers-by over the past few years, Harris was “used to being the young boy.” In 2020, he came out as a veterinarian.
“It was my turn to share my experiences and help (new recruits) through college,” he said. “He called my number.
“There may be some pressure. You need to be the one to speak at a certain time. But man, I did it. It’s something that comes naturally with my voice and character. ”
“They are still both with us”
Harris plans to get tattoos with the numbers “3” and “26” after this season to honor fallen teammates Tyler Hilinski and Bryce Beekman.
“These are my brothers. “I keep them with me,” he said. “It is a tragic event, a lot of emotions. Mental health is real in college football. It’s serious in sports and I think a lot of people need to understand that. “They are both with us to this day.”
Harris in “his home away from home”
Much has been done about the “family atmosphere” involving Pullman and WSU, and Harris provided an anecdote summarizing his experience of living in Palouse.
“It simply came to our notice then. “One day I lost my keys outside the house,” he said with a laugh. “Later, my neighbor found them and just came to me. They are just original things. We all care about each other. “There is a different atmosphere here.”