Darien Harris was a big part of the Spartan Defense in 2015 that went all the way to the College Football Playoff. He’s now on new MSU Head Coach Mel Tucker’s staff as the director of player engagement. Harris was more than happy to reminisce about the 2015 blocked punt at the Big House.
“Someone just asked me about that bus ride home that night,” Harris said. “It was the best hour of my life. It was everything you want it to be in terms of a student-athlete, the rivalry, how it ended, and the way Jalen Watts-Jackson took that blocked punt into the endzone. It never gets old.”
Before the famous blocked punt, there was a comeback. Spartans were down in the 4th quarter. Harris said there was a never a doubt.
“The sideline was all about belief,” Harris said. “It was the same with the Ohio State game, even though it was before the OSU game. We knew what we had to do. Just keep chipping away at lead. Don’t’ let them score, you give the offense a shot to score and lead. If the clock isn’t at zero, the game isn’t over.”
As a linebacker, Harris points to the defensive plays that changed the game, like a goal-line stand and a tackle for a loss.
“I remember we had a blitz called, Jake Rudock made a check, and our whole defense switched the blitz and it ended with a tackle for the loss,” Harris said. “We were swarming to the ball, all 11 players on defense was on the same page.”
Harris also talked about the stop that forced the Wolverines to punt and we know how that ended.
“We stopped them play before,” he said. “I remember RJ Williamson wasn’t playing, but he smiled and said to me, ‘hey man, we’re going to win this game.’ I said, ‘I know.’”
That’s when Jalen Watts-Jackson scooped up a fumbled snap to a score the game-winning touchdown as time expired. When most Spartans went to the end zone to swarm JWJ, Harris went the other way to find his dad.
“I ran towards the stands and gave my dad a big hug,” Harris said. “He fought his way down. We have a fun picture on top of the barrier.”
An epic moment in Spartan history that will live on forever. Harris is now MSU’s director of player engagement. He was hired by Tucker just before the Coronovirus hit our area. Harris said, when football returns, Tucker is the man to lead the Green and White back.
“He’s phenomenal, he’s a great guy,” Harris said. “I point to how we’re handling this pandemic right now, what we are doing virtually. “He’s still creating an excitement and buzz around MSU. Everyone is excited again about MSU football.