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Published: Monday, 4/26/2004

Ravens pick BG's Harris

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Need to know anything about the players chosen in this year's NFL draft? Contact Josh Harris, draft expert.

“I watched every bit of this year's draft, from start to finish,'' said the former Bowling Green State University quarterback.

But the player Harris knows best is ... Josh Harris.

BG's do-everything quarterback from last season became the first Falcon drafted since 1994 when Baltimore selected him in the sixth round.

Harris, who watched the draft with family and friends in Columbus, admitted to some disappointment when his name wasn't announced earlier. Some mock drafts had Harris going as high as the third round.

“We were getting a little frustrated, a little angry,” Harris said of the early-round snub. “But when I was finally picked, that all went out the window.”

The Ravens made him the first BG player drafted since the Dallas Cowboys selected Charlie Williams in the third round in 1994 when they chose Harris with the 187th overall pick.

“It was just a relief [to hear my name called],” Harris said. “It was, ‘Wow, it's finally here.' We were excited — there was lots of cheering, clapping, and hugging when it happened.”

Harris was realistic about his chances to play immediately for the Ravens. “They are paying Kyle Boller a lot of money, so they obviously don't plan to make me the starter,” Harris said. “But I'll just go in and compete [for a job], just like I always have.”

Last season Baltimore took Boller with the 19th pick of the first round. He started Baltimore's first nine games but had a passer rating and completion percentage below the league average and was benched.

The Ravens' other quarterback is Anthony Wright, who replaced Boller as the starter but has played with three teams in his five previous NFL seasons.

Harris said he has had little contact with Baltimore — “They called to say they were going to pick me, and that's about it,'' he said — but the team's front office seems pleased with its new quarterback.

“You want a guy who's tough. You want a guy who's intelligent. You want a guy who's coachable. You want a guy who's willing to learn,” said Eric DeCosta, the Ravens' director of college scouting. “You also look for some mobility, a guy who can make a play with his feet when things break down.”

Phil Savage, Baltimore's director of player personnel, also focused on Harris' athletic ability as the reason the team made the pick.

“He's very mobile for that size player,” Savage said of the 6-1, 238-pound Harris. “He's got a good arm. I wouldn't classify it as a great arm, but they were very productive at Bowling Green. He's someone that we had kind of been watching for the last couple of years.”

BG coach Gregg Brandon said playing for Baltimore gives Harris a great opportunity to further his quarterbacking skills.

“I know Brian Billick and he and Matt Cavanaugh [Baltimore's offensive coordinator] have so much to offer Josh in his development as an NFL player,” Brandon said. “Josh is a dedicated student of the game and works as hard as any player at his craft, and this looks like a great fit for both parties.”

Last season Harris completed 325 of 494 passes for 3,813 yards and 27 touchdowns.

Harris was the sixth of seven MAC players chosen and the second MAC quarterback taken. Findlay High product Ben Roethlisberger of Miami was taken in the first round, as was defensive lineman Jason Babin of Western Michigan. Marshall wideout Darius Watts was chosen in the third round, while the fifth round saw Miami offensive guard Jacob Bell and Northern Illinois tailback Michael Turner selected.

In the seventh round Houston selected tight end Michael Gaines, who attended Central Florida but did not play football for the Knights.

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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