Undrafted rookie Wide Receiver R.J. Harris was kind enough to take the time for a telephone interview for Saints fans to get to know a little bit about him.
Please don’t laugh at me for not knowing, but what does “R.J.” stand for?
My name is actually Ronnie Harris, Jr. I’m a Junior, so it’s just “Ronnie Jr.”
I see you were born in Germany. Were you in a military family?
Yeah, both of my parents were in the Army. That’s where they met, in Germany. They’re both retired now, and we moved to the States just a few months after I was born.
You’ve got a pretty big tattoo across your chest. What is it?
It’s a baby cherub. I just like the thought of having angels supporting me throughout everything I do. I’ve also got a religious themed sleeve on my arm. My grandfather passed away when I was in high school, and that kind of inspired the religious theme for the sleeve, and then it just kept growing.
So now that training camp has wrapped up, what TV shows are you watching?
Well the last binge I went on was Sons of Anarchy. All of the seasons were on Netflix so I banged that out in like four weeks. But I always still enjoy watching Martin and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Did you watch Game 7 of the NBA Finals? Who were you pulling for?
Yeah, I watched it. I was actually pulling for Golden State. I thought Golden State winning [back-to-back and after their regular season record] would have been more interesting, but now after what Lebron did? That was interesting enough. To pull his team back up from being down 3-1 and securing his legacy... Wow.
Do you have a favorite team in the NBA?
No, not really. I don’t have a team that I follow, but if I had to pick one, it’d probably be the Washington Wizards. They’re the hometown team, and I really like John Wall.
You said “hometown” - I assume that you moved around a lot in a military, but where do you consider “home?”
Home for me is Maryland.
So what was your favorite NFL team growing up then?
I didn’t really have a team. I was just really a fan of Michael Vick. I followed all of his games and any team he was on. I started playing Quarterback because of Michael Vick. I wore #7 because of Vick. But my mother works at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, and that’s the hospital that supports the Ravens. So she was there for Jamal Lewis’s surgery and Ray Lewis’s surgery, and the Ravens players would always come back and bring everyone Ravens gear and tickets. That kind of made her a Ravens fan through that. Then my dad had been a Washington Redskins fans, and there had always been a fun rivalry between the two. But for the past year and a half, it’s been Saints everything. We’ve turned everything Black and Gold.
What is the process like of signing a reserve futures contract?
As soon as the regular season ends, teams start calling your agent offering futures contracts. It’s kind of like the end of the draft all over again, where you’ll get a bunch of different offers and have to weigh everything and decide what’s best for you and your future.
Did you get multiple offers?
I believe so, but once my agent told me the Saints called, that was it. I said, “Let’s take it. Let’s sign it. That’s it.”
What players in camp did you really bond with?
Off the field, we’re all close as a group of receivers. We’re all young and just pretty tight. On the field, I’d have to say Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead are the two players I’ve really been leaning on for advice. They both know where I’m at now, and they’ve been there before. They both took big steps in their second years, and I just want to learn from that. Snead was on a futures contract as well last season, so he’s done it all and had success.
There was a report that you messed up a route “pretty bad” in camp. What happened there?
It’s just the game of football. It’s not a perfect game. Everyone’s going to make mistakes, and you just can’t dwell on those mistakes. This is still a learning process for me, and I’m still trying to get a full grasp on the playbook. It was a simple mistake, and something that I could correct. That’s why it’s good for me having guys like Coleman and Snead in the huddle to tell me how to fix it. They’ll say, “Here’s what you did wrong. Here’s how you can fix it. Here’s what you can do better. Now go out there and make a play.” That’s it. You make a mistake, you fix it, and boom - on to the next one.
I also saw you’re trying to learn as many position as you can. What’s that process been like?
I just embrace that roll. I just want to put myself in the best position to make the team. Maybe it won’t be as a receiver. My niche might come on Special Teams. I just want to show the coaches I have what it takes to help this team win in any way I can, and that’s what I’m aiming for now.
You’re wore #7 for Vick, and you wore #15 in college. If you got your pick of jersey numbers if you make the team, what number would you pick?
I think I’d actually stick with #14. That’s the number I was am right now. It doesn’t have any meaning or anything. When I came back to the Saints this year, they gave me a new number. It felt like me having a new number was a new start - a fresh start. I like this fresh start.
What would it mean for you to make the team?
It would be a dream come true. Ever since high school, I’ve always been called “too small” or “too slow.” Over my career, I’ve heard that for 8, 9, 10 years now. It’s not about proving other people wrong. It’s about proving myself right. I want to prove to myself that I have what it takes to crack a roster, and I will do whatever it takes this preseason and training camp to do it.
Any final message for Saints fans?
I’m extremely grateful and blessed to be back and a part of the Who Dat Nation. I appreciate this second go-round, and I’m ready to get to work this preseason. We already wrapped up camp, and I don’t report back until July 27th. I’m still training at home. I will do whatever it takes to crack this 53-man roster and I want to be a part of helping Who Dat Nation get back on top.
R.J., you’ve got a fan for life in me now. You’ve got the right attitude, and that’s something no amount of camp, film study, or gym time can teach. Saints fans, make sure you follow R.J. on Twitter @RJHarris15 and on Instagram @RJ_Harris15. If you’re looking for one of those fringe players to root for to make the team, R.J. is your guy.