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RAIDERS : Major Harris a Minor Pick With Canada an Option

April 24, 1990|MARK HEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Raiders finally came up with a big name in the NFL draft, even if they had to wait 12 rounds to select one: West Virginia quarterback Major Harris.

On the heartening side for Harris, at least he was their first No. 12 pick, ahead of tight end Demetrius Davis of Nevada Reno, the final pick of the draft.

It didn't seem to help much.

"I couldn't believe it," Harris said from Morgantown, W. Va., laughing ironically. "I got drafted!

"You know, I just thought I wasn't going to get drafted. It's funny, but I got drafted! What can I say?"

A Heisman Trophy candidate as a sophomore and junior, Harris played three varsity seasons and still became the only NCAA Division I player ever to throw for 5,000 yards and run for 2,000.

He led the Mountaineers to a No. 1 ranking at the end of the '88 regular season, and into the Sun, Fiesta and Gator Bowls in his three seasons in Morgantown.

He is leaving West Virginia as a junior but has been generally downgraded as a pro prospect. He is a fine runner with a strong arm, but he has a big windup, rather than a quick release. And at 6-feet-1, he's relatively short.

He still might have been a mid-round pick, but he has been negotiating with the Vancouver Lions of the Canadian League.

Harris says he will "more than likely" go with the best offer.

"Football is football," he said. "I'm going to do what's best for me. If (the Raiders) want me, I don't know what I'm going to do."

And if he thought he had a chance to win the Raider No. 1 job?

"Being a 12th-round draft choice, I don't know how much of a chance I'm going to get," he said, laughing again.

"Athletically and talent-wise, I thought I should have been a first-round draft choice, to be honest.

"But I knew coming out, I was getting a lot of negative press. They would never show film of me showing what I can do. They'd just say I couldn't throw, this and that. They didn't look at my statistics."

Harris has resisted suggestions to switch positions.

"I'm not playing anywhere but quarterback," he said. "I played quarterback in college, I played quarterback in high school. I feel I've been successful so far, so why change?"

The Raiders say he'll be a quarterback. However, their traditional style of staying in the pocket and throwing deep is the opposite of the rollout offense Harris ran at West Virginia.

"All the guy has been is a winner," said Art Shell. "He stayed on the board a long time. We felt the guy was deserving of better than where we picked him."

And what words of consolation did the Raiders have for Harris?

"Ain't too much you can say to a 12th-round pick," Harris said.

Raider Notes

First reaction to the Raider draft of Arizona defensive end Anthony Smith is surprise. "That was different," said Tony Razzano, the 49ers' chief scout. An AFC personnel director, asked about it, rolled his eyes. . . . The Raider draft: Round 1. Smith; 2. Aaron Wallace, linebacker, Texas A&M; 4. Torin Dorn, cornerback, North Carolina; 6. Marcus Wilson, running back, Virginia; 7. Gary Lewis, defensive back, Alcorn State; 8. Art Jimerson, linebacker, Norfolk State; 9. Leon Perry, running back, Oklahoma; 11A, Ron Lewis, wide receiver, Jackson State; 11B, Myron Jones, running back, Fresno State; 12A, Major Harris, quarterback, West Virginia; 12B Demetrius Davis, tight end, Nevada Reno.

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