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Montel Harris Balances An Unusual Commitment: Starting For The Football Team And Working At Hillside

Associate Sports Editor

Published: Thursday, March 18, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01


Sang Lee / Heights Staff

Montel Harris would never be considered an average player on the football field.

When people think of the sophomore running back from Jacksonville, Fla., most recognize him as the Boston College football team's leading rusher. Some might think of his record-breaking season in 2009, in which he totaled 1,457 rushing yards on 308 carries, setting sophomore records along the way.

His standout performance against NC State also comes to mind, when he ran over the Wolfpack for 264 yards and five touchdowns. Harris was also second in the ACC in rushing yards, helping lead the Eagles to an 8-5 record and a match-up with Southern Cal in the Emerald Bowl.

Already 10th on BC's all-time rushing list with 2,357 yards, Harris rises above the rest on the field. But off the field, the sophomore is just an average BC student.

Over the past month, students may have recognized a familiar face working at Hillside Cafe. That's because the Eagles' standout running back now works there.

Harris, who still participates in offseason workouts with the team during the winter, took a job with BC Dining working at Hillside to fill the free time with which he found himself after football season ended in late December. Just as he shoulders BC's rushing attack, Harris now fits in seven to 10 hours per week working at Hillside on top of his regular classes and practice schedule.

"I had some free time in the offseason, and I wanted to make some extra money," Harris said. "It's good working at Hillside. It's clean, you get to see a lot of your friends, and you still get to socialize. I couldn't see any bad in it, so I went ahead and took a job."

Since starting the job about a month ago, Harris has experienced everything a normal employee at Hillside does. He makes sandwiches alongside other student employees, while also filling coffee orders behind the counter.

"I do everything," Harris said. "I started learning the coffee bar, so I've done the coffee bar a couple times, but mainly just making sandwiches."

Harris said one of the best parts about working at Hillside is interacting with the students that come to eat or grab coffee. The running back, who has been very happy with his experience with BC Dining so far, enjoys seeing his friends and other students, as well as catching up with everyone.

"I like [working] a lot," Harris said. "Everyone at Hillside is very nice. I see a lot of my friends, people I haven't seen in a long time. It's pretty cool."

Just as most students balance class and work, Harris also must find time in his busy schedule of class and football to take shifts at work. On a typical day, Harris completes football workouts in the morning and then goes to class. Afterwards, he heads to Hillside on Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Harris then has to fit in his normal homework and assignments, plus extra tutoring sessions.

Even with his time-consuming schedule, Harris understands his classes are his first priority. Work at Hillside, he said, is something he enjoys outside of school and football.

"I try not to get overworked, so school comes first," Harris said. "So I make sure I go to all my classes. With work, it's not hard, it's kind of fun. It's more like fun to me, the job is fun. School is harder than work. If I get school out of the way, it's really nothing."

With the arrival of spring comes the start of spring practice, and now Harris must also devote more time to football. Spring practice allows the team to hold organized practices and scrimmages leading up to the Jay McGillis Spring Game on April 24.

Though Harris is able to work normal shifts now, practice will mean he will have less time to commit to Hillside. Harris said the offseason has been productive, but he's ready to get back on the field, even though it may mean cutting back on the number of shifts he works at Hillside.

"[The offseason] is going good," Harris said. "I got in the weight room, had a good winter. I gave my body some time to heal, so I'm ready to go again."

Even as he prepares for another dominant season with the Eagles, Harris recognizes that there are other opportunities he can take advantage of while at BC besides football, which is why he took the job at Hillside in the first place.

Many don't consider athletes to be active in anything outside their sport and classes, but Harris shows that there's more to playing football at BC than just the season and offseason workouts.

"I think more people are starting to see that the athlete is more than just going to class and playing football," Harris said. "Some people see me [at Hillside] and they're still shocked that I work there, like, ‘What are you doing working? Football players can't work.'

"People are starting to notice that it's more than football with most of the people here."

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