Ever since arriving in Ann Arbor in 2002, defensive end Larry
Harrison has always been close to his football cohorts in the class
of 2006 — especially David Harris and Rondell Biggs. But this
season, the redshirt sophomore has taken an interest in some
members of the class of 2008.

Michigan Football
Larry Harrison turned around his approach to football entering this season. (RYAN WEINER/Daily)

“I’ve got a pretty good connection with the younger
guys that just came in, like Marques Walton and Alan Branch,”
Harrison said. “I try to (take a leadership role) because my
freshman year was pretty rocky and I just want their freshman year
to be as easy as possible. They don’t have to do some of the
dumb things that I did my freshman year.”

Harrison admits he had a laundry list of miscues in his first
year as a Wolverine.

“(I used to) fall asleep in meetings, be late for stuff
— just the typical things that just make life a lot harder at
Michigan,” Harrison said.

Michigan coach Lloyd Carr “absolutely” remembers
Harrison catching some extra Z’s during team meetings.

“When you get caught by coach Carr, it’s not
pretty,” Harrison said. “The next time you’re
gonna be up at 6 a.m. for the next month.”

Pre-dawn workouts were not what this Detroit native anticipated
when coming out of high school.

Harrison grew up as a diehard Michigan fan and first felt
destined to attend the University at a difficult time for any
Wolverine supporter.

“I started watching (Michigan football) when I was
probably seven or eight,” Harrison said. “My first game
that I really remember, for me, was the (1994) Colorado-Michigan
game — the touchdown in the endzone with Kordell Stewart.
Even though they lost that game, right there I was like,
‘Man, I’m going to Michigan.’ ”

After attending Michigan football camp for three years, Harrison
received a scholarship offer. Other Big Ten schools also expressed
interest, but Harrison was set on donning the Maize and Blue.

“I wasn’t really paying much attention (to other Big
Ten schools) because I was here at Michigan, and that was a dream
for me since I was little,” Harrison said. “I knew I
was going to go for Michigan once they told me they were
interested.”

But Harrison’s freshman year did not go as planned. And
excessive slumber was not his only problem.

“In workouts, you’d always see him in the
back,” junior offensive tackle Adam Stenavich said.

Said Carr: “I think when Larry first came here, he
wasn’t like a lot of kids, and particularly big kids, kids
that play on the offensive or defensive line. He was a little
heavy. He wasn’t used to the conditioning level that you have
to (employ) here. Because here, unlike high school, he’s
going to be competing every down with a guy across the line of
scrimmage that’s just as big or bigger than he is.”

Last year, Harrison began to clean up his act and played in 11
games, recording 12 tackles. But immense adjustments in
Harrison’s attitude did not come until after the season.

“I’d have to say this spring,” Stenavich said.
“His attitude and everything just changed.”

Harrison’s reasoning for the transformation was
simple.

“Time was passing me up,” Harrison said.
“Sophomore year, I started getting some playing time and
boom, it’s my junior year and I was like, ‘Man, I gotta
take this really serious.’ ”

Harrison decided to live alone this year — something he
feels has really helped him take care of responsibilities.

“It keeps me focused in the classroom,” Harrison
said. “I don’t have distractions around me all the
time, so it’s working out pretty well.”

The steps Harrison has taken off the field complement his
improved work ethic on it.

“His greatest improvement as a football player has come in
his conditioning and his strength and controlling his
weight,” Carr said.

In his first year as a starter, the 6-foot-3, 299 pounder has
recorded 15 tackles. But Harrison believes he’s far from
reaching his potential.

“I think I’ve gotten better after each game,”
Harrison said. “I still have room for improvement.”

Said Carr: “He’s still got a long way to go. But
certainly as a first-year starter, he’s done a good
job.”

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