Occidental wide receiver Cordell Harris (senior) narrowly missed his last opportunity to cement himself as fourth on Occidental’s all-time receiving yards list when the Occidental football team lost 61-37 to the Chapman Panthers in their last game of the season Nov. 12. Harris sits at 2066 career receiving yards — a mere 21 yards behind Josh Jones ’15. Considering that the school has been keeping stats since 1946, fifth place in Occidental history is no small feat.
Occidental football head coach Doug Semones recalled Harris’ career as a Tiger as one adorned with highlight plays, strong leadership and raw football talent.
“Cordell is an outstanding player and leader,” Semones said via email. “He came into our first training camp very confident and with a skill set that allowed him to play immediately as a freshman.”
Harris arose as a clutch player from the onset of his career, often sealing games with explosive kick returns and crucial receptions in crunch time.
Harris’ play proved to be a crucial component of the success of starting quarterback Bryan Scott (senior) as well as the offense as a whole. As one of Scott’s most trusted options, Harris consistently produced at a high level. No other quarterback/wide receiver combination in Occidental football history has connected on more completions, according to Semones.
Teammate Derek Poetzinger (senior) remembered Harris’ emphatic arrival at the beginning of their first football camp at Occidental.
“During our first camp, Cordell ran a quick route, got the ball and juked someone so bad that the whole team started hootin’ and hollering,” Poetzinger said. “From that moment on, before we had even played one game that season, I realized that he was a force to be reckoned with for four years.”
In the “Battle for the Shoes” against Whittier (which the Tigers won comfortably 56-38), Harris returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass from Scott. He also added six tackles and an interception while playing defensive back. His outstanding play in the Tigers’ win earned him SCIAC Football Player of the Week as well as a spot on the d3football.com Team of the Week.
Harris’ awards were not earned through raw talent alone. Poetzinger notes that Harris is one of the Tigers’ hardest working players.
“He would consistently show up to practice every day, ready to give his full effort,” Poetzinger said. “He really brought our energy to another level at practice.”
Semones added that Harris’ energy and effort contributed to his tremendous growth year to year.
“Cordell is a diligent worker who is always trying to improve his game,” Semones said. “I believe he will have an opportunity to play football after graduation at some level.”
Harris ended his career with 5135 total yards and 16 receiving touchdowns. His successful career during his four years of Occidental has raised the standards for future classes of Oxy football recruits.