Sports

GOLD HELMET AWARD

Framingham State’s Jaquan Harris earns honors

HARVARD ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS
Framingham State football coach Tom Kelley with Gold Helmet winner Jaquan Harris, a senior free safety from Boston.

The numbers reveal commitment, talent, passion, and unbridled dedication.

Jaquan Harris, 22, is a determined young man.

The Boston native starts every weekday morning bright and early working for Winchester-based Phoenix Construction Resources, Inc. This week, he’s on a site in Sudbury, cleaning, smashing concrete, breaking down walls, et al.

Advertisement

One of 11 children, and the youngest boy, he is paying his own way through Framingham State while living in an off-campus apartment.

Get Sports Headlines in your inbox:
The Globe's most recent sports headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Then Harris is off to a late afternoon football practice at Framingham State, where the 6-foot, 185-pound senior starts at free safety for the 5-0 Rams. By 6:30, the accounting major is off the practice field and in class until 9:30 or so.

“Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are long days, 6:30 in the morning till 10 at night,” said Harris, a Quincy High graduate who, long term, wants to get into real estate.

But he is making his taxing schedule work.

On Wednesday, however, he to had alter his routine.

Advertisement

No construction attire or hard hat. Dressed in a freshly pressed white shirt and black bow tie, Harris was at Harvard University’s Dillon Fieldhouse to collect hardware after his record-setting performance last Friday at Fitchburg State.

In a 32-16 MASCAC victory, Harris tied an NCAA Division 3 record with five interceptions — including three in the third quarter. He now shares the record with 11 players; the most recent was James Patrick (Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Ala.) in 2002.

Accompanied by coach Tom Kelley, the humble Harris was presented the Week 6 Division 2-3 Gold Helmet from the New England Football Writers. Dartmouth senior Jack Heneghan (24 of 42 , 314 yards, 3 TDs), who orchestrated the greatest comeback in Big Green history in a last-minute 28-27 win over visiting Yale, was the D1 recipient.

“The majority of those [interceptions] weren’t from me — it the defensive line applying pressure, the linebackers being in the passing lanes, tipping the ball in the air, etc.,” said Harris, who is the last line of defense for a unit that is yielding 12 points per game.

His first pick, on Fitchburg State’s first possession, and ensuing 19-yard return, set up the Rams’ first score. “Right then, I knew it was going to be a very good day,” said Harris, who credited a tipped ball by linebacker Svenn Jacobson for his second pick. His final three picks, all in the third quarter, halted Fitchburg drives in Framingham territory, including his snare on the 1 when he was forced out of bounds.

Advertisement

“I watch a lot of film, study tendencies, and then I read the quarterback’s eyes, and study his favorite targets.”

At game’s end, amid high fives, hugs, and back slaps from the Ram sideline, a few teammates noted that he could have had six. “There was one [ball] in which I did not dive,” Harris acknowledged.

Then the chorus of texts and calls started flowing from family members up and down the East Coast, including from his mother, Sharon Phillips, now living in North Carolina.

Craig Larson can be reached at craig.larson@globe.com