Florida announces Harris’ hire

by Inside the Gators Staff
0 comment

Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators

Courtesy Florida Sports Information

GAINESVILLE, Fla.— Florida head football coach Billy Napier named Will Harris Florida’s new secondary coach, it was announced Monday.

Harris, 36, arrives in Gainesville after spending the 2023 season with the Los Angeles Chargers as an assistant secondary coach.

“Will Harris is an absolute professional. He will bring connection and confidence to our defensive backs room,” Napier said. “He has a great reputation and pedigree and will help our players reach their full potential as people, students and players. I’m excited to watch the impact he is going to have on our organization and team.”

“I’m very excited to be joining the University of Florida Football Program and such a dedicated and passionate staff,” Harris said. “It’s an honor, and I look forward to contributing to the legacy of excellence and the rich tradition that this program is known for.”

A coaching veteran with more than 10 years of experience, Harris’s resume includes stints as defensive coordinator at Georgia Southern and as Washington’s defensive backs coach, where he led one of the best secondary groups in the country.

In 2022, his first year as a defensive coordinator with the Eagles, Harris led a young Georgia Southern defense that posted 15 red zone stops, which was second in the FBS, and was in the top 20 nationally in red zone defense. Georgia Southern posted 11 interceptions and 65 pass break ups under Harris’s system.

Prior to Georgia Southern, Harris spent four successful seasons, from 2018 to 2021, coaching Washington’s defensive backs.

In 2021, Washington led the nation in pass defense, allowing 143.3 yards per game and giving up only six touchdowns. That year, Harris helped develop two first-team Pac-12 All-Conference selections in Kyler Gordon and Trent McDuffie. McDuffie also earned third-team All-America honors from the Associated Press and was a first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, Gordon was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears.

Additionally, Washington was the only Power 5 school in 2021 with two cornerbacks to earn an 85+ grade from Pro Football Focus in Gordon and McDuffie. According to PFF, McDuffie’s rating over a three-season span was the best in the Pac-12 Conference.

Harris was named to the 2021 “50 Rising-Star Position Coaches You Need To Know” list by On3.com.

In 2020, Harris helped the Huskies improve from No. 56 nationally in pass defense in 2019 (222.2 yards per game) to No. 13 nationally and No. 1 in the Pac-12 (184.9 yards per game). That year, he helped coach the top defense in the Pac-12 in terms of total defense and passing yards allowed. Among his defensive backs were first-team All-Pac-12 and second-team All-America honoree Elijah Molden (Pro Football Focus’ Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year) and McDuffie, an all-conference second-team selection that year. Molden went on to become a third-round selection in the 2021 NFL Draft when he was picked by the Tennessee Titans.

In 2019, Harris served as an assistant defensive backs coach for UW and helped coach one of the strongest secondaries in the nation. Despite a young defensive group, the Huskies posted the No. 15 scoring defense in the country, giving up less than 20 points per game. That year, Molden earned first-team All-Pac-12 and second team All-American honors, while senior Myles Bryant was an all-conference second-team selection.

In his first season in Seattle, Harris helped coach a defense that finished first in the Pac-12 in scoring and total defense. The Huskies allowed just 16.4 points (fifth-best in the FBS) and 306.2 yards (12th best in the FBS) per game and were also in the top two in pass defense (both in terms of yards and efficiency) and rush defense.

Harris helped coach a secondary that featured two All-America players in 2018: safety Taylor Rapp and Byron Murphy, who earned first-team honors. Murphy was rated the top cornerback in the country by PFF College. Both earned first-team All-Pac-12, while Bryant and Molden (as a special teamer) both made the second team. Senior safety Jojo McIntosh was an honorable mention all-conference selection. Rapp and Murphy both became second-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.

In all, Washington produced an All-American defensive back every year from 2018 to 2021. McDuffie in 2021; Molden in 2020 and 2019; and Murphy and Rapp in 2018. Not coincidentally, Harris coached the defensive backs those four seasons.

Prior to UW, Harris spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons at San Jose State coaching the defensive backs, where he mentored two All-Mountain West selections in cornerback Andrew Chachere and safety Maurice McKnight. Chachere was a first-team all-conference choice and finished fourth nationally in passes defended, while McKnight was an honorable mention selection.

Between his two seasons at SJSU, he participated in the National Football League’s summer internship coaching program with the Oakland Raiders.

Harris spent the 2015 season as defensive backs coach at Dixie State College in St. George, Utah. He coached defensive back Colton Olson to First-Team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference honors in his lone season with the Trailblazers.

Harris began his coaching career in 2013 as the defensive backs coach at Northwestern Oklahoma State University and was in a similar capacity at Humboldt State University in 2014. While at Humboldt State, he also served as the special teams coordinator. The Lumberjacks ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense and No. 19 in pass defense. Three Humboldt defensive backs earned All-GNAC honors.

Harris also served as an assistant coach with the Snoop League Youth Football Organization in the spring of 2013. Founded by Calvin Broadus, better known as entertainment legend Snoop Dogg, the league helps young players through the teaching of character, integrity, discipline and teamwork gained through playing football.

In 2012-13, Harris assisted the staff at Fullerton College and Diamond Bar High School in southern California.

A highly-recruited athlete (league MVP in football and basketball) from Charter Oak High in Covina, California, Harris was a defensive back on five University of Southern California (USC) bowl teams. He was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection as a strong safety in 2009. Harris started his USC career in 2005, seeing time at cornerback as a true freshman. That season, USC went 12-1, losing only to Texas in a memorable Rose Bowl showdown.

After redshirting the 2006 season due to injury, Harris returned to the field in 2007, playing safety in 10 games, helping the Trojans to an 11-2 record, capped by a win over Illinois in the Rose Bowl. In 2008, he played in all 13 games on a Trojans squad that finished 12-1 and beat Penn State in the Rose Bowl, finishing No. 3 in the final AP top 25. As a senior in 2009, Harris started at safety, finishing the season with 69 tackles and four interceptions in Coach Pete Carroll’s final season with the Trojans.

After completing his collegiate playing career at USC, Harris spent some time in the Seattle Seahawks camp and played for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

A 2010 USC graduate, he majored in American studies and ethnicity.

Harris is a native of Pasadena, Calif.

Coaching Experience
2023: Los Angeles Chargers (assistant secondary coach)
2022: Georgia Southern (defensive coordinator/defensive backs)
2018-21: Washington (defensive backs)
2016-17: San Jose State (defensive backs)
2015: Dixie College (defensive backs/co-defensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator)
2014: Humboldt State (defensive backs)
2013: Northwestern Oklahoma State (defensive backs)

NFL Players Coached by Harris *(teams drafted by/signed by)
Trent McDuffie (CB): Kansas City Chiefs – 2022 NFL Draft, 1st Round.
Kyler Gordon (CB): Chicago Bears – 2022 NFL Draft, 2nd Round.
Byron Murphy Jr. (CB): Arizona Cardinals – 2019 NFL Draft, 2nd Round.
Taylor Rapp (CB): Los Angeles Rams – 2019 NFL Draft, 2nd Round.
Elijah Molden (CB): Tennessee Titans – 2021 NFL Draft, 3rd Round.
Keith Taylor (CB): Carolina Panthers – 2021 NFL Draft, 5th Round.
Jermaine Kelly (CB): Houston Texans – 2018 NFL Draft, 7th Round.
Andre Chachere (CB): Houston Texans – 2018, UDFA.

Playing Experience
USC (2005-09)
Seattle Seahawks (2010)
Edmonton Eskimos (2010)

College Bowl Experience
As a coach
2022: Camellia (GS vs. Buffalo)
2019: Las Vegas (Washington vs. Boise State)
2018: Rose (Washington vs. Ohio State)

As a player
2009: Emerald (USC vs. Boston College)
2008: Rose (USC vs. Penn State)
2007: Rose (USC vs. Illinois)
2006: Rose (USC vs. Michigan)
2005: BCS National Championship/Rose (USC vs. Texas)

Go to discussion...

Related Articles


Leave a comment

Please log in to your forum account to comment

Community platform by XenForo® © 2010-2022 XenForo Ltd. Style and add-ons by ThemeHouse