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Elijah Harris - young athlete on the rise

 

Elijah Harris plays defense against an opponent last fall in Coulee Dam. - Scott Hunter photo

Football season is a long ways away, but it's never far from Elijah Harris' mind. The 6-5, 230-pound junior at Lake Roosevelt High School is looking to move up to the college level of football.

Colleges all over the Northwest and as far as Montana have their eyes on Harris, who excels as an athlete on both the offensive and defensive lines.

"It is hard to pick what side of the ball [I prefer] because I have invested so much time into both," Harris said, "but I think the defensive side is where I can just be myself and play my heart out."

Harris, a force to be reckoned with on the field, is frequently double and triple teamed by the opposition, surprising considering he is relatively new to the sport.

"My freshmen year of high school, I started getting interested in it," Harris said. "My sophomore year, I met Coach (Loren) Endsley, who taught me to love the game."

Harris is in communications with Eastern Washington, Montana State, University of Idaho, Whitworth, Southern Oregon, and Humboldt State, just to name a few, all interested in recruiting him to play football for them.

"Right now I think I am leaning towards Eastern Washington," Harris said. "It would be a great fit for me. It is close to home, has a great culture, and the coaches are awesome."

Harris, currently a Running Start student earning college credits while in high school, is interested in studying English in relation to either education or journalism in college.

Harris recently sat in on a practice with the EWU Eagles football team, giving him the opportunity to see what it means to be a Division One, NCAA athlete.

This summer, Harris is going to the Northwest Elite Showcase where over 50 college coaches can see Harris in action. Harris will also be attending several full padded college camps which include EWU, Central Washington University, University of Montana, and Montana State University.

Harris has worked with Nate Overbay (Former NFL player), Cassidy Curtis (former EWU offensive lineman, Big Sky champion, and Canadian Football League player), and Kato Fawkes (former University of Idaho offensive lineman, and CFL player), who each worked with Harris to help him refine his technique and spoke to him about the process of moving up to the next level of being an athlete.

Lake Roosevelt Head Coach Loren Endsley spoke about Harris' athleticism. "He is extremely fast, has great explosive ability, and can change directions very well," he said. "Every time he has performed for college coaches, they are amazed with his ability to move for being such a big body. Also, his reach is very important for playing offensive and defensive line. If you are able to strike someone before they can reach you, it makes a huge difference."

Harris can frequently be found in the weight room at Lake Roosevelt, where he spends time every day. Weighing 170 in February of 2016, Harris has bulked up to a current weight of 230 pounds while also dropping his body fat percentage. "His numbers, as far as his maxes, have skyrocketed," Endsley said.

In addition to the weights, Harris goes through a lot of other forms of training to build up his speed and stamina, improve his technique as a lineman, and just about anything else an athlete can work on, including studying hours of film of NFL and college players.

Elijah Harris performs drills at the Northwest College Showcase in Kent last June, where Harris worked against top competition in the Northwest. In the background are football coaches from colleges Montana State, Portland State, and Weber State. - submitted photo

"It has to be a way of life as you train and become the best athlete you can be," Harris said. "It never stops, because you can never be perfect, so you always have to keep yourself working and driving towards your next goal. For me, at least, the physical aspect is probably the easiest. So is the dietary part. The mental part is what brings it all together, though. You have to decide deep down that you want something bad enough to suffer and sacrifice for it. Once you do that you just have to put it into practice by forcing yourself to eat right, or continuing a workout even though you already feel like you cannot move."

"What makes Elijah a great athlete," Endsley said, "is his desire to always be better and find a way to help his team. The things that people don't see are his leadership skills, and his relentless work ethic. He is like a second coach. He has stepped up big time, bringing in a lot more teammates into the weight room and pushing them. He helps all the younger players, not only in the high school but the younger players in the junior high. Coulee Youth Football linemen love going to him and asking him for drills and how to be better."

"The one thing I have learned," Harris said, "is that if you want something bad enough, and you are willing to work for it, anything is possible."

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