MSU's Harris becomes a leader in football

Dez Harris
Staff Writer

Time and time again, life has tried to knock down Dezmond Harris. Over and over again, the Mississippi State linebacker has gotten back up.
Harris, who will enter his senior season in 2017, has overcome three torn ACLs to get to this point of his career. It’s a spot he, at times, thought he’d never get to see.
“There have been a few times I wondered if I would get to this point,” Harris said. “It has been a long ride, but everything I’ve been through has only ended up making me stronger.”
Harris first tore his right ACL in high school. The Bessemer, Alabama, native then tore his left ACL twice once he arrived at Mississippi State. In back-to-back Octobers in 2014 and 2015, Harris suffered the injury in-game with the Bulldogs.
Some guys don’t come back from one torn ACL. Harris has now made a habit out of overcoming the challenge. In the process, he has earned the respect of all those around him.
“When you look at a guy like Dez, who could have just gave up and called it quits, it inspires you,” Harris’ MSU teammate Gerri Green said. “It lets you know that no matter what you’re going through, you can keep going. With the injuries that he’s had, he could have just stopped and said, ‘I’m done.’ He didn’t let it stop him though. Now he’s in a position where he’s going to be a starting middle linebacker this upcoming season. You look at him, and that lets me know I can’t stop because he doesn’t stop. He uses that. He tells us all the time that he could’ve quit, but there are no excuses on this field.”
The leadership Harris provides has perhaps never been needed more for MSU. The Bulldogs lost linebacker Richie Brown, thus making Harris a key cog of the linebacking corps. Harris says it’s different not having Brown in the linebackers’ meeting room now, but he feels he is prepared to fill those shoes.
“I know though my years here with (former MSU linebackers Benardrick McKinney, Beniquez Brown, Deontae Skinner) and Richie, they have all given me the tools and shown me the way to lead the defense,” Harris said. “Now that those guys are gone, I am looking to step into those shoes and that role and just lead. Hopefully, the guys will get in line and follow.”
Green says everyone is most definitely paying attention to Harris.
“Dez doesn’t hold back,” Green said. “He’s been one of the vocal leaders out there this spring. He is like the quarterback of the defense. He makes checks and calls. We see that every single day.”
When you’ve overcome as much as Harris has, people pay attention.
Odds are at some point this season, a Bulldog will come upon hard times. They’ll feel like giving up. When that happens, Harris says he’ll be right there to push them to keep moving on.
“I bring up (my adversity) all the time because I know, thinking back to another situation I had a couple of years ago with my grandma passing, I know without my teammates I would not have gotten through it,” Harris said. “I would not have been able to push forward with what we had to do. I just want to preach to the guys and let them know that through everything we have to be together. No matter what, we have to be a team and be one. I just try to instill that into them each day.”
No one can preach those words with more conviction than Harris. He has been through the fire and come out the other side better for it.
“All adversity is just a mindset,” Harris said. “You can get through anything as long as you got God inside and you got a good support system and you have that will to fight back from anything. That is all you need."