by Harry Mini
Norfolk, Virginia. – when Dave Harris Deciding to move from Minnesota, he did so late in the calendar year and thus had to make a decision in less than a week. Soon Illinois offered it to him, as did Kansas and Charlotte.
However, the display that the 6-foot-2, 235-pound defensive side couldn’t resist came from football coach Old Dominion. Ricky bet.
“Coach Pawn, he showed me what he was trying to do here at ODU and I believe in him and I still believe in him,” Harris said,
“He told me he was looking to turn the program around. I was trying to make a quick decision, so there was a lot going on. But he had a plan and I believed in his.”
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, who moved with four years of eligibility, Harris made a standout play this past weekend at Florida International, when he returned to cover passes, picked a faulty pass and returned it 39 yards for the touchdown.
Unlike your typical defensive end, Harris viewed the ball in his arms as a wide receiver. And although there were a lot of FIU players between him and the goal line, he wanted to go down. Turn left, break backwards against the olayers bead to his right, and head to the end area untouched.
This helped Harris double as a tight end in high school.
“Coach Rahn said when the opportunity arises, take advantage of these opportunities,” he said. “And that’s what I did.
“We’ve made sure to capitalize on the transitions, and we’ve had some really good blocks. Chazz Wallace, he was a freshman, he had a clean cast, I scraped the paint off, and I just cut it off.”
As for the program change, he said it was already a part of that. His high school, Northern Lutheran, wasn’t very good at first and we turned around and it turned out we were one of the best high schools in the country.
“And I know that comes with a lot of hard work. You have to have a group of committed guys. He told me we had this here and we were doing it, and I wanted to be a part of something special.”
ODU (3-6 overall, 2-3 USA Conference) hosts Florida Atlantic (5-4, 3-2) on Saturday at 3:30 with a two-game winning streak. After spending much of the season in the final division of the East Division, the Kings could finish third of seven teams if the Kings manage to sweep matches against the FAU, in Central Tennessee on November 20 and then on their home soil against Charlotte on November 27.
“We always believed in each other and trusted each other,” Harris said. “Now that we’ve won the last two weeks, I think it kind of showed us the opportunity to do something really special here at ODU.”
ODU focused on going 1-0 and not the eligibility
ODU must win the last three games to qualify for the ball, but Rahne made it clear that it made no sense to take the focus away from the next opponent.
“When was our last game? November 27? That’s when we’ll talk about it. Right when everyone eats their last Thanksgiving leftovers, we’ll be able to discuss these possibilities.”
“Until then, it’s too big. It’s too many. You have to talk about one game at a time. You start talking about games and putting things together like this, weeks at a time, I mean this is really hard.”
“It’s really hard for most adults, so for our guys, it’s really hard. We’re talking about threading together on a good day and then having another good day afterwards. Separating it makes it so much easier.”
FAU’s last appearance in ODU?
The FAU will likely make its last ODU appearance for the foreseeable future on Saturday given the impending move of ODU to the Sun Belt Conference, and FAU to the American Athletic Conference, so it may be the Kings’ last chance to make some noise in the rivalry that dominated owls as of late.
The FAU has won three straight games against ODU, all by lopsided results, including a 41-3 win over the Monarchs two years ago in Norfolk. ODU did not play in 2020 due to the pandemic.
FAU is a 6-point favorite and has played a tough table. Owls were lost in Florida, the Air Force, and at the Marshall House.
Quarterback Nkosa Perry, a graduate transfer from the University of Miami, completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,038 yards and 16 touchdowns. But FAU’s offense is balanced—the owls rushed for 1,596 yards, including 634 yards from behind Johnny Ford, a junior high school junior at 5-5 and 175 pounds.
FAU has one of the largest nose guards in the country and freshman Evan Anderson, who weighs 6-3, 356 pounds.
“I don’t know how big it is, whatever its name, I think it’s bigger,” Rahn said. “He is a huge human being.
“Their entire line of defense in general is great.”
FAU coach Willie Taggart reunites with Wood Selig
FAU coach Willie Taggart is a familiar face to ODU athletic director Wood Selig, who gave Taggart his first chance as head coach in 2010 when Dr. Selig was athletic director at Western Kentucky.
Taggart quickly rebuilt a program that had gone 2-22 the previous two seasons and had seen 20 straight games. After scoring 2-10 in their first season, the Hilltoppers had two seasons with seven wins and went to their first game on the FBS podium.
Taggart went to South Florida, Oregon, and the state of Florida before taking over as FAU in 2020.
“I can’t wait to see him,” Selig said. “It’s one of my all-time favourites.”
Rahn praises ODU soccer team for winning C-USA title
Rahn said he watched a lot of the ODU women’s soccer team’s 1-0 victory over the Southern Miss in the C-USA Championship game last Sunday.
“It was wonderful,” he said. “I think it shows our entire sports department the possibilities of what you can do here at Old Dominion, so that you can win trophies.
“This thing didn’t happen overnight. Coach (Angie) Hind built this thing up over time. They played little football. Even the game-winning goal, right? It was a great cross (by Megan Watts), and a header (by Megan Watts). Morgan Hall) That’s all that matters, right? Then they played incredible defense and had a great goalkeeper.”
Big Casey Perry has been really cool. She has nine deliveries and her goals-to-average 0.41 goals per game is fifth nationally.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Rahn said. “Score a goal in extra time in the quarter-finals to do that and then come back and win 2-1 in the semi-finals. They played a lot of really strong, consistent football which is great.
“I think this is something we can all learn from. It is about playing well in the big moments. Again, you don’t know when that biggest moment will come but when you get your chance, you have to take advantage of it.”
The Monarchs meet top seed Duke in Durham, North Carolina on Friday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the NCAA Championship.
Donations for children’s toys
A group of dozens of ODU fans who called themselves “Monarchists” on Twitter are sponsoring a Toys for Tots campaign at two locations ahead of the FAU game.
Toys for Tots was sponsored by the US Marines, who celebrated their 246th anniversary earlier this week. Two Marines will accept new unopened toys and other Christmas gifts for kids at Kaufman Mall. The Marines would be easy to find – they are standing next to a Humvee.
Gifts are also accepted at Blue Tail – the area just east of Hampton Boulevard from SB Ballard.
This effort is being led by Virginia Beach Police Chief Harry McBrain, a former US Marine who was deployed to an overseas combat zone when he served.