Here is what defensive end Shelby Harris had to say in a conference call with Bay Area media Saturday after he was selected in the seventh round:
Q: Did you have an inkling that the Raiders were in on you?
Harris: “I had a feeling, but just to have my name called was a great feeling. Just knowing that it’s official, and I’m part of Raider Nation. I couldn’t be more excited.”
Q: Having not played last year, what were your thoughts going in to this weekend?
Harris: “I knew I had the ability to play, but also with everything that’s happened in the past, you never know. I just left it all up to God and prayed. My prayers were answered.”
Q: Did you watch?
Harris: “Yes definitely, I was watching the whole time.”
Q: Where did you meet with the Raiders?
Harris: “I met with them at the Northwestern Pro Day. I met with [college area scout] Trey Scott, the Raiders scout. What made me respect the Raiders was that he talked to me like a man. After talking a little bit, he said he could tell that I have matured over the years, which I have. I couldn’t ask for a better organization.”
Q: Do you feel like you have something to prove to try to show that you’ve moved on from your past?
Harris: “Definitely. It’s not necessarily something to prove, but to my teammates and to my coaches, I want to prove to them that I’m a better person. I’m not what the papers and everyone says I am. I am a good person with a great background and I’m a great team person, and that’s what’s important.”
Q: What can you tell us about the dismissal from the team?
Harris: “I’m not necessarily going to get into it. I’m just going to say that I made some mistakes and I’ve moved on. I’ve grown from them. In the end, it has made me a better person and made me who I am today.”
Q: Sitting out of football last season, did you have a self discovery during that team?
Harris: “It was heartbreaking. It was going to be my senior year and just knowing that I had been riding it out with those same guys for the last three years, and coming off the season we had, when we went to the playoffs, I was looking forward to my senior year. When everything went down and I was dismissed from the team, it hit me hard. It made me look at myself in the mirror and look at me as a person and think ‘what do I need to change as a person to be successful.’”
Q: Your bio says you weighed 250 your junior year and now it says you weight 288. Have you put on that much weight?
Harris: “I was around 255 my sophomore year. My last year I played, I was around 270-275.”
Q: You were a tackle your last year at Illinois State. Do you project as a defensive end with the Raiders as far as you know? Or did they not get that specific?
Harris: “We didn’t really go over specifics, but honestly, I can play wherever they want me to.”
Q: How did you stay in shape the year you weren’t playing?
Harris: “Well, I went to a community college that had a weight room and basketball helped out a lot. Also, I got a job, just keeping busy. But, I ran, played basketball and worked out every day. So that’s how I stayed in shape. Then, leading up into the draft, I went and trained in Indianapolis at St. Vincent Sports Performance. That’s really what helped me get into that next level, going to Indianapolis and training there.”
Q: What did you do for a job?
Harris: “I was a server at this Italian restaurant.”
Q: Did the tips come out pretty good there?
Harris: “Honestly, I loved the people I worked with. I had a great time working there. The only reason I left was because I wanted to go train in Indianapolis.”
Q: Would you say the teams that spoke to your before didn’t talk to you like a man? What does that mean?
Harris: “It’s not necessarily that they didn’t talk to me like a man. It’s just the fact that I feel like the Raiders organization in general is a very professional organization and everyone that I talked to in the Raiders organization were the most up worthy, classy people I met throughout this whole process. Everyone else I met throughout the process, they were all great people and they were all great organizations, but the Raiders from the beginning made it known that they were interested.”
Q: The Raiders have made it known the last couple of years to say that they want guys of high character. What do you think that says about taking you?
Harris: “I think that shows in general as me as a person how they can tell from talking to me that I am not a bad person. Even though I may have been through a lot, I’m still a good person and I’m willing to work and I am a good player.”