When Nigel Harris chose where to play college football, he wanted to stay home in Tampa at USF. And now, after playing for the Chargers and Giants as an NFL rookie, he's grateful for the chance to again prove himself in Tampa as the newest member of the Bucs' practice squad.
"It's about pride. You have to do anything you can to get the home team back on top," said Harris, excited for his first practice Thursday and donning a No. 52 jersey. "That's what I'm here to do."
Harris, who played at Hillsborough High and went undrafted this spring out of USF, played seven games with the Chargers and two with the Giants, totaling 12 tackles in his first NFL action.
"The experience was nice and all. I did pick up a lot of things, met some great people and great coaches, just getting tidbits here and there about the game," Harris said. "The good thing about going from different places is understanding different defenses. It opened my mind up to understanding the game a little more."
Harris hopes to show enough promise in the next three weeks to earn a contract for 2018, having the offseason to help his chances to make the Bucs' roster. He understands the best path for any young linebacker to playing time is on special teams.
"Being able to get on the field and get that game experience, there's nothing like it," Harris said. "I'm grateful for every opportunity I get, and just taking it full-speed in everything."
Harris also worked out for the Packers on Tuesday but said the chance to play in his hometown, close to family and friends, was a major plus.
"It's like the icing on the cake," said Harris, who grew up a Bucs fan watching Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp. "It not only makes myself happy, but others around me, family and friends. I want to do what I can for the city, for Tampa Bay."