In Duke’s 52-48 loss to Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Florida’s newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper gained the approval of Gator fans as his unit racked up 661 yards of total offense.
He also won over Treon Harris that night.
“I was like, ‘I hope I can play in an offense like that.’ … That was it right there,” he said.
At the time, the U.S. Army All-American had been committed to Florida State for almost six months. But Harris didn’t feel like the Seminoles’ system was suited for him, so he decided to take official visits to Florida, Auburn and Miami in January.
Harris found his fit at UF and flipped to the Gators on signing day, though he had been silently committed for a few weeks.
“I told coach (Will) Muschamp on my official visit (Jan. 17),” Harris said. “You gotta do what’s best for you, your life and your future.
“Everything as I planned it worked out.”
Harris said he ran an offense similar to Roper’s at Miami Booker T. Washington, where he won consecutive Class 4A state championships in his final two seasons of high school.
“I’m excited that he’s coming,” Roper said. “I think he sees himself fitting into what we do offensively, and that was probably the biggest factor in his decision.
“I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to get started just like all those other (signees).”
Harris is more anxious than your typical incoming freshman. He spent his entire spring break in Gainesville this week, attending practices and quarterback meetings to “get a peak” of what things will be like for him once he enrolls.
“I’m behind,” he said, “but that’s why I’m up here in the spring learning things and getting my notes in. So when fall comes, I’ll be on point.”
Harris is gunning for the backup job, at the very least, in 2014. Not only is he undaunted by Mr. Football USA and Maxwell Award winner Will Grier, but he’s trying to give starter Jeff Driskel a run for his money.
“I got big confidence,” Harris said. “I love to compete against good guys. Like coach Roper says, ‘The best are going to play in this offense.’
“In college you gotta compete to play the position of quarterback. It doesn’t matter where you’re at. Will Grier is a great athlete, but one of us has to get the (No. 2) spot.”
After watching practice, Harris thinks Driskel, Grier and Skyler Mornhinweg all have room for improvement, and he feels one area of his game could set him apart.
“I can run better,” he said. “I can throw the ball just like those guys. I just gotta come in and learn my playbook.
“It’s going to take hard work and dedication. Coming up here and showing that I can lead my team and my offense to a national championship.”
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Harris is a big fan of Drew Brees, Johnny Manziel and Russell Wilson, players he looks to when criticized about his size.
“I hear it a lot,” Harris said. “But everybody saw what Johnny Manziel came in and did. Guys like him, mobile quarterbacks, prove that height doesn’t really mean anything.
“Short guys can throw just like a 6’5 guy. … It’s all about the heart and the passion that you got for football. You have to love this game to be the quarterback.”