Erik Harris traversed a long and winding road to the NFL, but now that he's made it, he's taking full advantage.
The Oakland Raiders safety — who began his football career as a Division-II walk-on — snagged two interceptions, one of which he took to the house, in his team's 26-24 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers Thursday night.
—NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2019
The 29-year-old shined at safety for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcans, but he was not selected in the 2012 NFL Draft after his graduation, nor was he invited to a single professional minicamp. He moved home to New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and began work at the local Utz potato chip factory.
But Harris refused to give up on his football goals and decided to go back to school to train while working a part-time job at UPS during the night shift. Soon after, he drove to Buffalo, New York, and paid $80 to work out for the Hampton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League.
Evidently, the tryout went well. Harris recorded three interceptions, four sacks, and 82 tackles in his three years with the franchise — enough for the New Orleans Saints to take notice.
Sean Payton and company brought Harris down to the Big Easy in February of 2016. One day later, he signed a deal to live out his NFL dreams. The 6-foot-3, 220-pounder mostly played on special teams during his time in Louisiana, but after seeing time in just four games, he tore his ACL and was later released from the team.
The Raiders signed him four days later, but even his career in Oakland was relatively slow at first. He only took four defensive snaps during the entire 2017 season, but he found his stride the following year. He registered 36 tackles and two interceptions in the 16 games he played in.
And thus far in 2019, he's performed even better. He's amassed 38 total tackles, three interceptions, and two touchdowns through nine games.