You have a say in your destiny. For Palm Harbor native and UCF wide receiver Jacob Harris he has discovered that first hand. Spectrum Sports 360 Reporter Despina Barton finds out why the once highly sought after soccer star turned to football and how he has the chance to be an x-factor for the Knights this season:
- Jacob Harris was a highly recruited soccer player, verbally committed to FGCU
- Only played one year of high school football at Palm Harbor Univeristy High School
- Earned scholarship with Knights last fall, as a part of the special teams unit
Jacob Harris has always had a strong foot game.
“You know growing up I was always a soccer player and soccer was my goal, I wanted to be a professional soccer player,” Harris explained.
It wasn’t until his senior year of high school at Palm Harbor University where he got talked into trying out for the football team by a close friend.
“There was a point where I was in high school going to football practice right after school and then coming home for 30 minutes to eat to go to soccer practice an hour away.”
Harris would verbally commit to play soccer at Florida Gulf Coast.
A week into his time on campus he had a change of heart.
“I called my high school coach up and said ‘I want to try to play football.’”
With only one year of football experience and very little tape Harris found an opportunity at Western Kentucky University, as a preferred walk-on.
But he was homesick and made the decision to return to Palm Harbor a year later. He still wanted to play football but wanted to be closer to home.
“Initially I was supposed to go to USF,” Harris said of finding his next school. “USF had the main interest but they had that coaching change and Willie Taggart left so that fell through and then the next stop was FIU and then they had another coaching change—so last opportunity was UCF.”
He enrolled on a whim in the Spring of 2017 getting the attention of Scott Frost’s coaching staff and becoming a part of UCF’s first undefeated season as a preferred walk-on.
A half-dozen months of work later new head coach Josh Heupel would affirm all of Harris’ decisions and give him a football scholarship.
“Since he’s been inside of our program, tireless work ethic he brings it at the same competitive nature every single day,” Heupel said of Harris earning a job.
“That’s why you see him go from a scout team guy to earning a position on special teams and becoming a dominant special team’s force at the end of last year.”
To now, as a 6’5 redshirt senior, he’s earned a role with the position group he’s always dreamt of being a part of.
“Ever since I was playing high school football I’ve always wanted to be a wide receiver, it’s just a position I was drawn to, very intrigued and by the spring game I was just happy, and happy that I was able to finally get a couple of touches.”
Those touches are just the tip of the iceberg of what many are saying will be a breakout season for the former soccer star.
“He’s going to be a great hybrid guy for us,” senior running back Adrian Killins said. “When a lot of people see him step on the field at whatever position that coaches put him at on the offensive side of the ball, they are honestly not going to know what to do to him.”
When asked why he left soccer Harris doesn’t hesitate to say.
“You know soccer was a team sport, it was competitive but football was just a different animal. You got 11 guys, going all out at the end of the day it’s a competition – ‘am I going to beat the guy lining up against me?”
That passion fueling Harris every step of the way.
“He’s going to help us a lot more than UCF fans don’t really know his name yet but come August 29th –the first game against FAMU they are going to know who Jacob Harris is for sure,” Killins added.
This was merely an informal introduction.