Posted by Adam Jacobi
All-American cornerback and punt returner Cliff Harris may still be suspended from the Oregon Ducks, but he's a few steps closer to rejoining the team later this season. As the Register-Guard reports, Harris has joined his teammates for voluntary summer workouts:
“It’s good to see him back in there,” said UO senior cornerback Anthony Gildon, the captain of Oregon’s defensive backfield. “He’ll be good. He’s a hard-working individual. You know, everybody makes mistakes; it’s not that big of a deal. He’s here to work. ...
“Of course we’re going to try and help him mature as he goes along, but he’s a good kid and he’ll be all right.”
Of course, as these are simply voluntary workouts, Harris has still not been reinstated to the program by head coach Chip Kelly, and he will not play in the season opener against LSU. Further, his eligiibility is still in some sort of limbo as the NCAA continues to investigate the arrangement that got Harris in the rental car in which he was speeding last month. If the NCAA doesn't look kindly on Mindy Schmidling, a payroll assistant in Oregon's athletic department, renting a car for Harris to use, then Harris might have to sit for much longer than Kelly would like.
Also of note is that Harris is paying off the mammoth amount of debt his legal foibles have gotten him into (with a little help). Here's more from the Register-Guard:
A Linn County Circuit Court spokeswoman said Harris’s mother, Lizette Harris, wrote a $1,620 check to the court to cover fines related to a June 12 traffic stop on Interstate 5 near Albany.
In that case, a state trooper ticketed Harris for driving 118 mph with a suspended license.
Harris’s parents wrote two additional checks on Thursday to cover unpaid fines that their son owed to Eugene Municipal Court and Lane County Circuit Court, according to a source close to the situation who spoke with The Register-Guard on condition of anonymity.
That second article lists over $6,000 of legal fines accrued by Harris, mainly from traffic tickets. Earlier reports had the total around $8,500, so there's obviously some confusion somewhere, but still: it's a big, big number. There's also a minor in possession of alcohol charge and a whatever fees a collection agency tacked onto some unpaid tickets, but by and large this is all stuff that Harris has accomplished in a car. There aren't any DUIs, but there's just about everything else: driving without a valid license (or a suspended license), driving without insurance, failure to stop at a stop sign, and a boatload of speeding charges.
One would hope the light finally turned on in Harris' head after his 118 mph citation, but until he puts together a few problem-free years, all the evidence suggests his habits are getting worse, not better. That's -- for lack of a better term -- an extremely dangerous road to go down, so for Harris' sake let's hope he starts getting his act together behind the wheel, and soon.