Jacory Harris: "I Expect to Play"

Players optimistic about individual eligibility rulings at CanesFest

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Seeming upbeat as usual, Miami quarterback Jacory Harris did not hesitate when asked about the fast-approaching start of the Hurricanes' season.

    "I expect to play," Harris said. "Yes, sir."

    The NCAA will decide soon if that becomes reality.

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    Harris and many other Miami players implicated by the extra-benefits scandal that threatens to negatively impact the program for years spoke out for the first time Saturday about the mess. None provided any specifics about the claims that former booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro made to Yahoo Sports.

    But many, like Harris, expressed some sense of optimism that they may be cleared in time to play Sept. 5, when Miami opens at Maryland.

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    -- "These people, they know what to do," defensive lineman Marcus Forston said.

    -- "I'm very hopeful," wide receiver Travis Benjamin said.

    -- "We know we're all we've got right now, this team," safety Ray Ray Armstrong said.

    -- "My spirits are high. I'm the same person. I'm not letting it affect me," linebacker Sean Spence said.

    Eight players — Harris, Spence and Benjamin among them, according to sources — have been declared ineligible by the university, which then turned the matter over to the NCAA and asked that a reinstatement process be expedited.

    "I was sad for the guys, because I think we all as individuals, we hope to grow, we hope to mature, we hope to learn from mistakes," head coach Al Golden said Saturday. "These guys are no different. If what has been alleged, if there ends up being some truth to it and they do have to serve some penalties, it's three years ago. So not only are they different than they were last year, now we have to go back three years. That's why I feel bad for them."

    Besides Harris, Forston, Spence, Benjamin and Armstrong, the other current players who were named by Shapiro in the Yahoo Sports article were Vaughn Telemaque, Aldarius Johnson, Olivier Vernon, Marcus Robinson, Adewale Ojomo, Dyron Dye and JoJo Nicholas.

    "Sometimes life's not fair," Miami center Tyler Horn said. "But I'm not worried about it. I'm focused on what I can control, and that's football."

    Independent of the scandal, this Miami camp began with one giant question: Would Harris or Stephen Morris play quarterback?

    As of Saturday, if that's been decided, no one is letting the secret out.

    Both played well at times last year, and Golden has said even during this camp that the two are alternating with the first-string. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said Saturday that even he doesn't yet know who will start.

    "I have no idea what coach Golden and his staff are going to be doing in terms of the depth chart," Morris said.

    Added Harris: "We're just taking it day-by-day, going out there every day, giving it our all, having fun. Whatever the depth chart says come whenever we have to release it, I think by Tuesday, then that's what it is and that's what's going into Maryland."

    Harris entertained questions for much of the allotted half-hour at the team's media day Saturday, doing so with typically the largest crowd of reporters gathered around him. He cracked a few one-liners, made fun of some teammates as they walked past, things he would have done under typical circumstances.

    If he's frightened for his future, it wasn't showing.

    "It's just a little bump in the road," Harris said. "It's something that we've got to get through. Whatever happens happens. At the end of the day, you've still got to weather the storm and fight through it. That's pretty much what we're doing as a team. We're going to fight through it and we're going to come out on top."