Harrison's play validates his confidence

Towson corner's 5 picks in 2 games lead Div. I-AA

College Football

September 25, 2004|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Allante Harrison has always been a bit brash.

Before he ever stepped on the field at Towson University, Harrison promised coach Gordy Combs to "get him an updated championship ring."

Combs said: "He was hanging around school the summer before his freshman season when he spotted the 1982-83 Division II Lambert [symbolic of Towson's Eastern supremacy] ring I was wearing and said it was outdated."

Harrison chuckled at the thought of his boldness as he prepared for this today's 6 p.m. Atlantic 10 home opener against Northeastern at Johnny Unitas Stadium.

"That's me," said the fourth-year junior cornerback. "I live for those challenges on the corner. I like being the guy out front who places himself on the line. You might beat me once but not twice."

Nobody is beating the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Harrison often these days. The Woodlawn High graduate leads Division I-AA in interceptions with five in two games. He returned two for touchdowns, one for 54 yards in a 21-17 loss to Delaware and one for 45 yards in a season-opening romp past Elon.

Harrison has already tied Towson and A-10 records for most interceptions returned for a touchdown (two) in a single season.

"My confidence comes from studying everything about my opponents, from the routes they run, when they run them, to all their other tendencies," he said.

Combs said Harrison was born to be a cornerback. "You have to have a certain demeanor to be a corner," said Combs. "You have to have a short memory and the ability to put the last play behind you."

Towson defensive coordinator Orlando Mitjans likes the way Harrison thinks on the field. "You have to believe whoever lines up against you, can't beat you," he said.

Mitjans said Harrison gained a lot by redshirting last season. "He was able to study opposing teams' offenses and watch everything develop from the sidelines. Plus, he saved two years for the A-10. Fortunately we had enough depth to do it."

Harrison is aware of the two high-profile corners (the Pittsburgh Steelers' Chad Scott and Cincinnati Bengals' Madieu Williams) who passed through Towson on their way to Maryland and the NFL, but he said they didn't influence his decision to become a Tiger.

"I was looking to go to North Carolina or Maryland but [Tar Heels coach] Carl Torbush and [Terps coach] Ron Vanderlinden got fired, and I chose Towson," said Harrison.

Both teams enter today's game off bye weeks with 1-1 records, with the Tigers losing two weeks ago to defending I-AA champion Delaware when the Blue Hens turned a fumble into the winning touchdown in the final minutes.

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