End of an Era

Contributed Photo: Sports Information
Sixth-year senior quarterback Cody Harris, finishes as the second all-time leading passer in Edinboro football history.
Harris’ career done at Edinboro

By Mike Fenner
Staff writer/Spectator

A journey that began in a small town in central Ohio, football took on an unrivaled significance in the life of a young, future signal caller. Born and raised in Waldo, Cody Harris knew by the time he had reached his sophomore year of high school that football was his passion.

“It’s what I wanted to do and I loved Friday nights,” Harris said. “It was just something that was kind of instilled with me as a little kid, but it kind of grew as I got older and it really clicked in my sophomore year of high school.”

Growing up with a football background and a great relationship with older brother Trevor Harris, there was plenty of exposure to the game early on for the quarterback.

“Cody is my best friend. He would tell you I’m his best friend as well,” Trevor said. “I’m not sure I influenced him to like football, but we are just wired the same way. We love to compete more than anyone you know.”

Trevor, who concluded his college career owning every passing and total offense high mark in the history of Edinboro football, as well as being a former practice squad member with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, is currently in the midst of his third season in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes. Additionally, he serves as a mentor, and more importantly as a best friend, according to Cody. 

“He was always there for me regardless of where I was going to go,” Cody said in an interview back in 2012. “He is an awesome older brother; he’s my best friend in the world.  He’s an awesome guy and I just wanted to come learn from him and learn from the best.”

Playing his high school football at Marion Pleasant high school in Waldo, Harris finished his last two seasons as the starting quarterback and was still undecided on where to attend college. He threw for 3,448 yards, 30 total touchdowns, completing just fewer than 61 percent of his passes.

“The first thing was: he was Trevor’s brother so we knew he came from a good bloodline,” ninth-year Edinboro head coach Scott Browning said of the recruiting process with Cody. “In a lot of ways, he was like Trevor in terms of his knowledge, his passion of the game, his passion to prepare. In the same breath, he’s not exactly the same type of quarterback as Trevor. Trevor was more of a pocket guy. He was very successful and a heck of a football player.”

“His work ethic is second to none,” Trevor added about his younger brother. “His dedication to becoming the best is great. He always finds a way to become the best and rise to the top. He is also always willing to go the extra mile to be detailed in his planning and preparation.”

Joining Browning and the Fighting Scots, the six-foot, 205 pound younger Harris would sit out the 2009 season with a redshirt as he learned under older brother Trevor and the coaching staff prior to an outstanding on field opportunity early on in his career.

“He adapted to the speed of the game very quickly and how efficient he was able to be in leading the country in completion percentage and finishing near the top in several other categories,” Trevor said. “In my opinion, he’s the best quarterback to take a snap for the red and white.”

Cody started in all 11 games of the 2010 season, beginning with a 20-19 victory over West Liberty where he finished the contest 13-19 through the air for 144 yards with his first collegiate career touchdown pass. “I would probably say my first game against West Liberty,” Harris recalled as one of his favorite games to play in. “Going down there, it was a real hostile environment. Those fans chanting. They were throwing stuff at us. It was kind of cool, though, just walking in there and I was pretty nervous. It was awesome and we actually went out there and got the win in my first game.”

Edinboro won its first four games of that season and finished the year with a 7-4 record.

Appearing in 10 of 11 games in the following 2011 season, Harris completed a stupendous 72.2 percent of his 237 passing attempts, while compiling 1,961 yards to go along with a 16-7 touchdown to interception ratio. 

Statistically speaking, 2012 marked Harris’ most productive season at Edinboro. The signal caller completed 245 of his 368 passes, accumulated 2,823 yards and hit 20 touchdown passes.

“That was when [former offensive coordinator Bryan] Volk was in his first year here,” Harris said. “A new offense, it was high tempo, getting up to the ball. We slung it around the perimeter, we’d go to the middle, it was really kind of a real quick, high tempo, fast-paced (offense).”

He added 219 yards on the ground and nine touchdown runs, while exceeding 200 yards in eight of his 10 games and posting four games of 300 yards or more, including a career high 460 yards at Clarion.

Cody opened up the 2013 season with sky high expectations before being sidelined after just two contests. 

In a 47-35 home opening loss to Bloomsburg, Cody connected on 25 of his 32 attempts for 360 yards and four touchdowns along with a pair of picks. Unfortunately for Cody, broken ribs in the fourth quarter of the valiant comeback bid sidelined the fifth-year senior for the remainder of the season.

Not knowing if his medical hardship waiver would come, Harris was well aware of the possibility that his Edinboro football career could have come to a close in the Bloomsburg loss. Fortunately for Harris, the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility in late April of this year.

“It really wasn’t what I wanted or what I expected, but you know that’s the way the cards fell and the way God wanted it to be,” Harris said back in August prior to the season. “I’m excited and I’m excited to see what’s going to happen.”

Following Volk’s offseason exit, Harris would enter training camp with a new offensive coach. Mike Miller, a former CFL and NFL coach, with several successful stints with organizations such as the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and Montreal Alouettes, was hired as the next offensive coordinator just two weeks prior to fall camp in Edinboro.

“It’s kind of like restarting in a way, but yet we have experience,” Cody said prior to the 2014 season. “Coach Miller is awesome; he is super detailed and he’s very smart. I’m excited to see what he brings to the table throughout the season in game planning and it should be really exciting to have him.”

Harris picked up right where he left off with last season with a 23-32, 177 yard game that included three touchdowns without a pick in a 38-24 loss to then 16th ranked Carson-Newman when the Scots opened up the year.

Entering the home opener with back to back losses, Harris rose to the occasion with a four touchdown game through the air, but the Scots were edged by East Stroudsburg 47-34 in an offensive shootout at Sox Harrison Stadium in late September.

Miller said, “The things we’ve been able to do this year, it’s funny we laugh and say ‘imagine if we had just one more year or two more years’ because really there are certain other phases of the offense that I never even put in yet, because we just didn’t have the time.”

After missing the Slippery Rock game due to injury, Harris responded with back to back wins — the first time Edinboro had concluded a regular season with consecutive wins since 2008, over Seton Hill (31-27) and Millersville (21-9) to conclude his college career.

Harris completed 69.6 percent of his 342 attempts, throwing 18 touchdown passes to just three interceptions, for 2,344 yards through the air. The sixth-year senior added five rushing touchdowns as well.

Cody ended his career at Edinboro with a 22-21 record as the Fighting Scots starter in 43 contests. Cody finished in the top 10 in both career total offense and career passing yards as well as a top 15 finish in career touchdown passes in the PSAC.

“His growth on the field was easy to see,” Trevor said. “He progressed off the field as a man, Christ follower and a leader. The latter of the two is the most enjoyable for myself to see because football ends at some point and you need to progress off the field. His maturity level off the field is impressive and I couldn’t be more proud to call someone my brother.”

Cody owns a pair of Edinboro’s top 10 spots in single season passing yards, four of the top eight spots in completions for a Fighting Scot and two of the top four spots in passing attempts. He holds three of the top 10 positions in terms of single season total offense.

“He’s a heck of a football player,” Browning said in complimenting Cody. “He was always there; he’s dependable. He did a nice job leading us from really the time his brother left. His work ethic, just everything…all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback, Cody has them.”

Cody’s 9,605 yards passing, 891 completions, 1,294 attempts, and 10,147 yards of total offense all place him in second in school history for a career according to the Fighting Scots record book, while his completion percentage of 68.8 marks the best all-time in Edinboro football history. “It was amazing and something that (he) and I will cherish forever that we spent basically an entire decade under center for Edinboro and were able to leave with successful careers and leave our imprint on the program as good people and leaders of the program,” Trevor said.  “It’s tough to see our careers as great but, (he) and I are our own worst critics and we would both tell you that we wanted to accomplish more as quarterbacks of the university.”

“Cody takes his mentoring ship very seriously too and he’s a good leader,” Miller added.  “Edinboro’s lucky to have had him for the time they’ve had him.”

Cody reflected on how he wants to be remembered.

“Just that I really cared about the university, that I really care about football and that I really care about everything that goes on here. I love Edinboro and it’s been a blessing to be here. Just that I actually care and I always have cared and I always will. I’m red and white, through and through, and just that I cared for everybody. I always tried to be a good teammate.”        

Mike Fenner is the staff writer for the Spectator. He can be reached by sports.spectator@gmail.com