INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Only a few miles from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, former Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris explained that driving 118 miles per hour somewhere other than a racetrack wasn't a good idea.
Often praised for his speed on the field, his excessive speed off it got him a citation in June 2011 and cost him his season opener for the Ducks.
"It was fun, but it was a bonehead move," Harris said Sunday at the NFL scouting combine. "I come from a family of drag racers. I was raised at the races. Going fast is almost in my blood, but I have to do it at the right time and at the right place."
Harris' need for speed was just one of many off-the-field issues that likely hurt his draft stock. He was later dismissed for the final seven games of the season after being caught driving with a suspended license and without proper insurance or a seatbelt, then released from the program for good in December. The Fresno Bee reported that he was cited for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Fresno, Calif., on Nov. 25, leading to the final disciplinary move.
"I was young, I was dumb, I made a couple of bonehead moves," Harris said. "From the success I was having and having it taken away just like that, that was an eye-opener for me. I'm ready to prove that I'm not going to make those same mistakes."
Janoris Jenkins also had issues after a promising start to his career as a cornerback at Florida. He started 36 games for the Gators over three years and was an all-Southeastern Conference pick as a junior, but he was dismissed in 2011 after the third arrest of his college career, the final two being drug-related.
Harris and Jenkins answered questions about their misconduct in recent days, hoping to convince teams that their wayward ways were behind them.
"I was honest and straight forward," Jenkins said. "Told them what I did. I admitted everything, I took full responsibility and that I learned from it."
Jenkins finished up his college career at Division II North Alabama and ranked second nationally with a 21.7-yard punt return average. He hopes his ability helps teams take a chance on him.
"They see the talent, they just want to know the kind of kid I am," he said. "I just come in here and show them that I'm not a bad kid. I'm looking to put it in the past and move forward."
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Jenkins has little to worry about.
"What happens, whether you believe in it or not, is the more talented kids get more chances, and Jenkins is a pretty talented kid," Mayock said. "Someone's going to want to buy into that."
Jenkins said he's past his drug use.
"I'm done with it forever," he said. "I can't do it. I can't let myself do it again."
Harris said he got caught up in the hype after his success in 2010. He broke up 23 passes, averaged 18.8 yards per punt return and set an Oregon record with four punt return touchdowns as a sophomore.
"I believe like that my off the field, how I was living and my on the field, the worlds collided and when they collided, I got taken off the field," he said.
Harris said he struggled emotionally during the suspension.
"I fell into a dark hole," he said. "I fell into a little pit where I felt sorry for myself and I was really down in the dumps and I just was losing myself. And one day it just clicked in my head that I have to dig myself out of this hole that I put myself into."
He got some help from above to regain his focus.
"I talked to God," he said. "I was raised in the church and as I got older, it kind of got away from me. You could see how, when it got away from me, everything in my life started to have a turn as well. I started going back to church."
He regrets the mistakes that cost him most of his junior year and said talking about them has been tough.
"It's probably a little more difficult than I thought," he said.
Harris said he has to get things right because he knows he's a role model.
"I have a personality that a lot of dudes gravitate to, so I have to always be doing the right thing and make my next decision the right decision," he said.
Mayock said Jenkins could afford to make more mistakes than Harris.
"The Harris kid is not as talented and not quite as big or quick," Mayock said. "There's going to be a shorter leash for him, and I think he'll go later because of that."
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