Who is Quentin Harris? Meet Duke football's newest starting quarterback

<p>Quentin Harris is set to make his first career start for Duke Saturday.</p>

Quentin Harris is set to make his first career start for Duke Saturday.

There might be no more important reserve position in sports than backup quarterback. 

Jeff Hostetler carried the Giants to a win in Super Bowl XXV after starter Phil Simms went down in Week 14 and Tom Brady did the same for the Patriots 11 years later, taking over for Drew Bledsoe in New England's second game of the season.

The point is, whether he's the next superstar or just the next man up, a second-string quarterback can make or break a team's season. And for Duke, that responsibility now falls on the shoulders of Quentin Harris.

So what is there to know about Harris? Here's the lowdown on the former three-star recruit.

What they said

When Harris was being courted as part of the Blue Devils' Class of 2015, the Watertown, Conn., native didn't have a ton of options. Although he drew interest from about 20 different schools, Harris got just five offers, per 247Sports—Duke, Boston College, Connecticut, Harvard and Yale.

The scouting report was as follows:

When he's in rhythm, he is as accurate as they come. Effortlessly strokes the ball on underneath throws and throws down the seam to intermediate levels.... Harris is a very productive player who has the potential to blow up if he can fix the mechanical flaws in his throwing motion. He possesses the long speed to be a major playmaker, and his experience with reading defenses will make him a valued commodity to college coaches. — ESPN Recruiting

The bloodlines

Harris' father, Kevin, played three years of football at Georgia in the early 1980s. The elder Harris played primarily at cornerback, helping five-time SEC Coach of the Year Vince Dooley and the Bulldogs to 28 wins, including a victory in the 1984 Cotton Bowl and the No. 4 ranking in that year's final AP poll.

Harris has two cousins who have also played Division I football, one at Miami University and the other at the University of Miami. And two of Harris' uncles along with grandfather, Elbert Harris Sr., played at Florida A&M.

By the numbers

Before last Saturday's game, Harris had attempted a total of 13 passes in his collegiate career. Six of his seven completions before he went 2-for-2 against Northwestern came in two appearances against N.C. Central, and of his three pass attempts in games against FBS sides, Harris completed just one—an 11-yard toss to T.J. Rahming in the third quarter of last season's loss to Pittsburgh.

Harris got 15 total snaps against Northwestern, only two of which resulted in pass attempts. Of the other 13 plays, two wound up as sacks and the others were designed runs. 

Also, the two passes Harris did throw were both screens behind the line of scrimmage—one to Johnathan Lloyd was immediately blown up by Wildcat defenders, but the other to Deon Jackson gave the tailback enough space to stretch out a first down.

What's the plan, Stan?

It's hard to forecast whether the Blue Devils will try to stretch the field with Harris. We haven't ever seen him try a deep ball against legitimate competition—no offense to N.C Central—and he didn't try much against Northwestern. But, that was in the fourth quarter of a contest that Duke just needed to salt away and burn as much clock as possible.

Still, it's likely that Blue Devil fans will see plenty of ground game against Baylor. Duke's running back tandem of Brittain Brown and Deon Jackson could very likely trample a Bear defense that surrendered 246 yards on 51 carries in last year's matchup in Durham—good for 4.8 yards per attempt.

But what if head coach David Cutcliffe decides to take advantage of Harris' legs and add another weapon to an already-dangerous mix?

The Blue Devils' longest play with Harris came on a third-and-long. It was a designed pass, but no one was open and, as you can see in the green circle, there was plenty of open grass. 

Harris chose to pull the ball down and run, and he got help from Duke's skill position players, who sealed blocks and allowed Harris to get to the edge and pick up 25 yards.

This play wasn't nearly as successful. It was an option run with Harris having the choice at the mesh point to either hand off to Brown or pull it back for himself. 

The Blue Devil quarterback gave it to Brown, who was promptly brought down behind the line of scrimmage. Had he run, Harris would've had just one man to beat for a decent chunk of yards.

Regardless, if Duke wants to have success with Harris, it's going to need better play from an offensive line that was bullied last week. Whether the Blue Devils run a more option-heavy attack or let Harris throw the ball, if he doesn't have time in the pocket to make decisions, it could be a long day for the first-time starter.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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