Adam Harris walked-on to play football for Syracuse University. This past Spring he earned a scholarship. This fall he is starting at Fullback.

August 29th, 2010

Adam Harris carrying the football against Akron University. Photo is courtesy of Syracuse University Athletics

Just keep positive.  You have to make your own breaks most of the time.  You are not going to get compliments walking-on, but if you don’t get a compliment you can’t get down on yourself, stay positive.

Adam Harris

Syracuse University

2009: Walk-on, Big East All-Academic Team, did not play in any games

2010: Full-back started in 10 of 12 games, Big East All-Academic Team, ESPN Academic All District Team

2011: Voted Team Captain

Towanda High School: First Team All-State Linebacker 2007, PA Football News Defensive Player of the Year 2007, The Elmira Star-Gazette Player of the Year 2007, All-Eastern Pennsylvania small school first-team all-state selection 2007, Most Tackles in the state of Pennsylvania with 198, Frank Bialek Sr. Football Scholar-Athlete, Two time Captain, Rushed for 1,563 yards and 20 Touchdowns – 2007


WillofaChampion: Why did you walk-on?

Adam Harris:  Since I was a little kid I wanted to play Division I football.  I originally went to Cornell but during my first year it felt like I was selling myself short not going after my dream.  I figured that if I walked-on and things didn’t work-out, that would be better than not giving it a try and regretting it.  So I gave it a shot, and it is working out so far.

WillofaChampion: Did your skill level compared to your teammates at Cornell encourage you to try and Walk-on at Syracuse?

Adam:  Funny thing is that I got a concussion during camp so I wasn’t able to play during the season.  I never got to gauge myself against others in a game situation.  So I really can’t answer.

WillofaChampion: Do you think you could’ve contributed on Saturday afternoons as a freshman at Cornell?

Adam:  I think I could have gotten some time on Special Teams and maybe a little time on defense.  But there really is no way to tell.

WillofaChampion: What has been one of your greatest challenges as a Walk-on?

Adam:  Trying to get the coaches to notice you.  When you’re a Walk-on a lot of the time you’re just a practice dummy to begin with.  It is really hard to get yourself out there and get the coaches to notice you.

WillofaChampion: How did you get the coaches to notice you?

Adam:  I always tried to hustle in each drill.  Be the first one out, never walking on the field, I spent extra time in the weight room, and I always try to be an “A” student in the classroom.  In the weight-room I worked on my feet to get quicker.  When I got here I was a little over-weight so I had to stretch more.  I wanted to be more agile.

WillofaChampion: Did you have to be mentally tougher as a walk-on compared to a scholarship player?

Adam:  I definitely think so.  As a walk-on you pretty-much make all your own breaks.  You’re not going to get a lot of attention, so if you’re not strong, you won’t make it.  You’re not going to have somebody there encouraging you all the time.  You have to believe in yourself.  That was one of the more difficult challenges.

WillofaChampion: Did you have to prove yourself to your teammates?

Adam:  I think initially everyone looks at a Walk-on as someone that may not make it or may not be there the whole time.  So initially they may not have thought much of me, but I tried to prove myself.

WillofaChampion: What was it like when Syracuse Head Football Coach Doug Marrone told you that you were getting a scholarship?

Adam:  We had just finished with a Saturday scrimmage.  We were in the locker-room and Coach Marrone called me into the office.  Coach started by telling me he had been waiting to do this for a while and that he was going to wait, but he decided I needed it then.  Then he said I got a scholarship.  I kind of broke down, it had been a long time coming for a dream come true.  I went into the locker-room and the team was hooting and hollering.  Coach came out and told my dad.  It was a great moment.

WillofaChampion: How has earning that scholarship impacted your work ethic?

Adam:  I try not to be complacent.  My dad told me that when you’re good, you have to work hard to be great.  So I try to work hard and get better.  I want to keep working and get as good as I can be and help the team as much as I can.

WillofaChampion: What impact has achieving your dream had on your life?

Adam:  My high school only graduated 150 students and we’ve never really had a Division I football player.  So a lot of people back home have taken some pride in this and are following me and the team.  I’m getting more attention, a lot more people coming out of the wood-work.  It’s all good.

WillofaChampion: With all your success in high school, why do you think you didn’t get a scholarship offer then?

Adam:  I am from a small town, and maybe I didn’t have as much speed as some guys.  I just didn’t catch that break.  It is tough to tell.

WillofaChampion: You’ve achieved this dream, what is your next big goal?

Adam:  To make a bowl game.  That is the big one.

WillofaChampion: Other athletes reading this article may be considering walking-on, what advice do you have for them?

Adam:  Just keep positive.  You have to make your own breaks.  You are not going to get compliments walking-on, but if you don’t get a compliment you can’t get down on yourself, stay positive.  You can only control you.  You have to get yourself out there for the coaches to notice you.

WillofaChampion: In your journey did you have any set-backs that were challenging for you to overcome and stay positive?

Adam:  It has been really good here at Syracuse.  I don’t have any regrets so far and I really haven’t had any disappointments.

Adam Harris will start at Fullback in the home opener against Akron University on September 4th, 2010. In high school Adam earned four letters in football, track and field, and three in basketball.


Interview: August, 2010