As the starting wide receiver for Arundel's No. 1 football team, R.J. Harris is one of the most prolific scorers in the state. He set state public school records for most receiving touchdowns in a career (44) and in a season (24) during the past two weeks as the Wildcats finished the regular season 10-0. The favorite target of All-Metro quarterback Billy Cosh, Harris has 88 receptions this season for 1,313 yards heading into Friday night's Class 4A East region semifinal at home against Annapolis. The senior has college offers from Towson, Delaware, New Hampshire and Monmouth. Harris, who also plays basketball for the Wildcats, has a 3.3 grade-point average and plans a career in sports medicine.
Question: : Have you always been a receiver?
Answer: : No. Actually I started off as a running back, and then I played defensive end for a while and then I moved to quarterback. I came into high school as a quarterback, but when I got here, Billy was already here. They left him at quarterback, obviously, and that's when I first moved to wide receiver, my freshman year.
Q:: What's your best asset as a receiver?
A: : I would say my route-running. I really take pride in my route-running. We just try to get open because we know Billy's going to get us the ball.
Q: : What makes the combination of you and Billy work so well?
A:: It's just hard work and effort. A lot of time together in the offseason. I've known him since my freshman year, and we've been clicking since then. We always spend time in the offseason working, running routes.
Q:: What's the most important thing about the connection between the receiver and the quarterback?
A:: You have to have a bond, a trust. Billy knows that if he puts the ball there, that's where I'm going to be and I can make a play for him, so all I have to do is get open and Billy will do the rest. He'll get me the ball, and he knows once he lets the ball go, I'll make the play, I'll catch it for him.
Q: : Did you mesh pretty quickly?
A: : Yes, we did. I always hang out with him. His family and my family, we're really good friends of each other. Over the summer, his dad would take us to camps and my parents would take us to camps, so it was really fun. We spent a lot of the summer together.
Q:: Last year, you had an All-Metro receiver, Alec Lemon, playing in front of you. What did you learn from watching Alec?
A: : Everything. I could just thank Alec for everything, because he was the leader of the team, so I was just watching him, everything he did. He taught me how to read defenses, how to run correct routes against certain defenses, and it really rubbed off on me and got me to where I am today. I think that's why I'm so successful now, and I'm just trying to take that role and be the leader of this team now and help all of our younger receivers.
Q:: What do the state records mean to you?
A: : To tell you the truth, I had no idea about it. My dad told me about it, but I had no idea. It felt great, because I worked hard, but that wasn't my goal. My goal wasn't to set records. Of course, it's fun and all, but our main goal is to win a state title.
Q:: Do you ever feel overshadowed by Billy?
A: : Oh, no. Not at all. I feel very honored to be here with him, to be able to play with the No. 1 quarterback possibly in the state of Maryland. It just feels great. People still feel I'm a good player. Everybody thinks that since this is a pass-happy offense, of course you're going to catch a lot of passes, but that's not true. You still have to work hard. That's what we do here as receivers, we work really hard along with the rest of our team. We all have a common goal, to win a state championship. It's a team effort.
Q: : What does football mean to you?
A:: It's very important to me. It's helps me become a better person in life, become a man. [Coach Chuck Markeiwicz], he's a great guy. He always instills that in us, like winning isn't everything; there's life after football. That's what we have to work on. You have to build character here, as well. It's not just about going out here and playing football. Coach Mark, he's not into that, just taking athletes. He wants people that you can respect, respectable people on the team. That's what really helped me.
Q: : Do you play video games?
A:: Yes. I play all kinds of video games, X-Box 360. I have a little brother out here. He's a sophomore on varsity. He's kind of the video head at home, but I hop on sometimes, play with him.
Q: : Are you more competitive at video games or football?
A:: Both. I don't take losing well. I don't think anybody wants to lose. Of course, it hurts, but it's something you have to accept, to get better for the next time.