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Harris giving Eagle defense new direction
GS Football
Georgia Southern defensive coordinator Will Harris checks in on defensive line work during practice on Friday, April 1. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Most eyes are on the Georgia Southern offense this spring as the Eagles veer away from an option-based offense into a spread attack under first year head coach Clay Helton. 

The Eagles are also implementing a new defense which is flying a little more under the radar. Defensive coordinator Will Harris comes to Statesboro after four years at the University of Washington as the Huskies defensive backs coach. Harris had great success at Washington and is excited about getting a chance to put in his system this spring. 

“We always say we want to be smart, fast and physical,” said Harris. “We have a lot of talent here and that is something that attracted me to the job when I talked to coach Helton. The thing this spring is to get our system implemented and make sure we are paying close attention to detail.” 

Harris led a Washington defensive backfield that included a pair of first team all-conference performers who may end up hearing their names called during the NFL Draft. Harris feels much of that success came due to the time the players put into mastering the Huskies defense. 

“We have the guys here to have a special defense as well,” said Harris. “The key is being detail oriented. We had talented guys at Washington and we have talented guys here. If they put in the work, they can be just as successful. I have been excited to see how many guys here love to study tape. We have had so many guys watching tape and that shows me they want to get better.” 

Harris believes film study can be as important as what the team is doing on the field. 

“It all comes down to situational football and we need to understand when and where a team is trying to attack us,” said Harris. “You can really understand the weaknesses of the defense by studying film.  I went back through last year and found things they do really well, and other things that need improvement. We also looked at some tape of what we did at Washington. It’s just important to see as much tape as we can.” 

Being in Statesboro and at Georgia Southern is new for Harris, but he understands the importance of getting his senior leaders involved in trying to pass along what the new staff expects as far as a winning culture. 

“Todd Bradley-Glenn, Justin Ellis and Dillon Springer are all guys who understand this culture and keep it going through the younger guys,” said Harris. “When we aren’t there and they are with their teammates, they are keeping that culture going. ” 

While what the Eagle players are doing on the field and in their meetings is important, Harris also felt it was very important to get to know the players he would be coaching prior to the team taking the field for spring drills. 

“It always comes down to the connections you make with the players,” said Harris. “It was important for our staff to get to know our guys. I know coach Kevin Whitley knew most of them but we all ate with them, and tried our best to know their background and where they come from. We tried to get to know their families, their girlfriends and just making a connection so they know we care about them as people as well as players.”