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August 18, 2011
Harrelson discusses position move
'Make Yourself Necessary to Somebody' ---Ralph Waldo Emerson
North Carolina junior Todd Harrelson justified the use of that phrase with his actions on Wednesday night, when he was approached by UNC head coach Everett Withers about the possibility of switching positions.
"Actually it was last night after practice. I was in the locker room and Coach Withers basically said he needed to talk with me," said Harrelson Thursday afternoon.
Harrelson was a wide receiver throughout his first three seasons at Carolina, but he was still no better than third on the depth chart as he worked out with the Tar Heels at the position in training camp this summer.
Simply stated, Harrelson wasn't going to be getting the ball thrown at him a whole lot this fall the way things were going.
All the while, a significant need has come up for the Tar Heels at cornerback.
Jabari Price's finger injury suffered on Tuesday, combined with Terry Shankle not being 100 percent and Charles Brown having to sit out the season opener, has made it where Harrelson can potentially get on the field much more and be a much bigger contributor to the 2011 Tar Heels on the defensive side of the ball.
"Coach Withers came and asked me if I wanted to make the switch, and I was like, 'Sure, if I can contribute to the team as fast as possible and help us win, then I'll make the move,'" he said.
"I know with the injuries and the depth at corner, I wanted to help, so I made the move," Harrelson continued. "Just for the team, I felt like I could contribute. For us to win, I'll do it."
"We have plenty of depth at receiver and I don't mind making the change. So anyway to get me on the field and make us win, I'm just happy for it."
Harrelson was a star cornerback during his days as a high school player at Chesapeake (Va.)'s Oscar Smith High, and while he knows it's going to be much faster playing at the college level, he's confident he can get up to speed quickly.
"Of course in college it's probably a little faster than when I was playing corner in high school, but it's really not that much of a difference. I've just got to learn everything in the playbook, and I should be okay," he said.
"But it's fast. The game is a lot faster on the other side of the ball playing DB against a receiver," Harrelson continued. "Probably just the technique at corner (is the biggest transition)---it's very detailed, your technique---but after a few practices, I should be pretty good."
"It's not really that bad. I've got good technique. Once I get in the groove, I should be fine. I'm pretty much an athlete. I came here as a wide receiver but I easily made the move."
"Once I learn our playbook, I think I should be fine. Playing corner, you've just got to be an athlete. So as long as I'm in the right spot making plays, I should be fine," he added.
In order to quickly get knowledgeable about the defensive schemes, Harrelson says he's planning to spend a lot of time in the coming weeks with his new comrades in the 'Rude Boys' secondary, and especially the veterans.
"I'll probably be with Charles Brown and Tre (Boston). They know the defense better than I do. And (Matt) Merletti. Just the veterans in the secondary, so I can get in the group," Harrelson said.
Guys like Brown and Merletti were helpful with Harrelson in practice on Thursday, his first session with the defense.
"(They were telling me) just be low, be fluid with your hips, and just always run after the ball. I'm not used to running after the ball every play. And they always say, 'Be confident.' At that position, you need confidence to play it."
Harrelson says confidence is one thing he won't be lacking when he takes the field at cornerback.
"Yeah, I'm confident in what I do. If I get beat or whatever happens, I'll be right back next play and bounce back. It shouldn't be that bad," he said.
Part of the reason why he's confident he can make this switch is because having played receiver for three seasons, he's very familiar with what he can expect from opposing players.
He believes its easier to make the receiver-to-cornerback switch than the other way around.
"Honestly, I think DB to receiver (is harder). I don't know about the playbook, which is harder, but it's hard playing receiver," he said.
"But both sides are athletic. It just depends on who the person is. Someone that isn't that fluid as a receiver, in and out of cuts, he probably wouldn't be as good making the switch (to receiver)."
Harrelson admits that he is going to have to take a different mindset now that he's playing defense. He says he's got to develop a tougher, more aggressive approach now that he's defending instead of running routes.
"I guess receiver---not saying they're 'prima donnas' or nothing---but on defense you've got to be hungry," he said. "You've got to be aggressive. More aggressive than an offensive player. So yeah, you've got to change your mindset."
"No, I don't say they (wide receivers) are prima donnas, but it's a different mindset for both sides of the ball."
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