BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots added four new players on Friday night, including running back Damien Harris, who they drafted with the 87th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Harris joins a crowded backfield in New England, but he’s just excited for his opportunity in the NFL. Here is what the Patriots’ new running back had to say on his conference call after being drafted:
(Transcript provided by Patriots.)
Q: Can you describe what it was like to get the call from Bill Belichick and the Patriots?
DH: It was a dream come true. I’ve been waiting on this moment for I don’t even know how long, since I first picked up a football, and just to be in this moment, be with my family, my friends, everyone that’s supported me is unbelievable – an unbelievable experience.
Q: Is there one running back that you model your game after or a few running backs that you like to watch?
DH: I mean, there’s a lot of great running backs in this league, a lot of guys that I have a lot of respect for, and there’s a lot of people that I kind of watch their film, I kind of see what they do and like to apply that on the field. I wouldn’t say one specific guy, but just I have so much respect for every guy that plays in the league. I just try to take a lot of things from different guys and see how I can apply it to my game.
Q: The history of running backs at Alabama is impressive, and you often see alumni going back to campus and meeting with the team. How big of a resource have the former Alabama guys been who are now in the league? Is there anybody specifically that came back and really had an impact on you?
DH: Just the whole [experience] being at Alabama has been unbelievable. There have been so many people that have helped me on this journey get to where I am today. I can’t thank all the coaches [enough] – Coach [Nick] Saban, Coach [Burton] Burns, Coach [Joe] Pannunzio for turning me into the best running back I can be, Coach Scott Cochran getting me in the best shape that I could always be in. Really everybody, they’ve always been there for me, they’ve always helped me get to the point I’m at now, so I’m super thankful to have had those guys and to have been a part of the Alabama experience.
Q: Sony Michel, another SEC running back, had a good rookie year for the Patriots. How would you say your style is like his and how would you say it’s different?
DH: I mean, I don’t really like to compare. Everybody’s different. Everybody is good in their own ways. He’s a great running back. He was always great in college. He even had a great season last year. So, I just want to go in and be the best version of myself. I don’t like to compare myself to him, but just come in and work hard and add to the team and help the team become more successful.
Q: How would you describe your own strengths?
DH: I think I’m just a dependable player, somebody that whenever you ask me to do something, I’ll do it. I think I just show a lot of great attributes on the field, things that help me be a great running back and they can help the team be successful. There’s a lot of things that I can do well, there’s a lot of things I can still improve on, so I’m just ready to come in and be my best me and get to work Day 1.
Q: Are you happy to be going to a team that runs the ball a lot?
DH: Absolutely. Being a part of this organization in and of itself is an honor and a privilege. I’m super excited and super happy to be a part of the Patriots.
Q: What was your experience like on special teams at Alabama? Were you used much in the kicking game?
DH: Yes, I had snaps at almost all special teams [units]. I played primarily on punt and punt return and always loved doing it. It was always fun for me and I just wanted to help make our special teams better – help change field position, be an attribute in the kicking game.
Q: Some people make connections between Saban and Belichick from the standpoint of coaching style. Do you feel like working with Saban will prepare you for working with Belichick?
DH: Absolutely. I mean, I think Coach Saban prepares all of his guys to be ready for this next level and be ready for the NFL. Obviously, Coach Saban and Coach Belichick are very similar, they know each other, they’re friends, so I think that on top of Coach Saban being the coach that he is, I think him having that relationship will also help me transition to the NFL and the Patriots and help me be successful.
Q: How about the experience you had two seasons ago with Brian Daboll as your offensive coordinator? Was there any particular influence that he had on you as a former Patriot assistant coach here?
DH: Yeah, I mean, Coach Daboll was great. He helped me become a better player. I had a really good junior year and think he was a lot to thank for that. He did everything he could to make all of his players on offense successful and I was one of those guys. So, having him, the way he coached us, the way he prepared us, special stuff, I definitely think that will help me translate to the next level.
Q: Was Alabama mainly gap or zone running schemes, or did you guys do a little bit of both?
DH: It just kind of depending on who we were playing. Some games we were gap schemes, sometimes we were zone schemes, and I think being able to do both of those well will help in the future. Not being a zone runner or a gap runner, being able to do both, I think that will help when it comes to the next level.
Q: Is there one blocking scheme that you prefer to run behind?
DH: Not really, I never had one play that I liked more than others. Just whatever we were asked to do, that was what we always did.
Q: Did you have much contact with the Patriots throughout the process?
DH: Not a whole lot. I talked to a lot of teams, but whenever they called me, I was just happy. I was excited, glad to be a part of the organization.
Q: Did you enjoy seeing Belichick at your Pro Day in a Crimson Tide shirt?
DH: I mean, him and Coach Saban have a special relationship. Coach Belichick is a huge Alabama fan, as you can tell. Thankfully he is, because that kind of helped me get to where I am. But, [I am] thankful for him and him and Coach Saban’s relationship. I’m just glad to be a part.
Q: Where were you tonight and who was with you when you were waiting to get the call?
DH: I was at home tonight in Kentucky. My family was here, some of my close friends, and we just came together and enjoyed this special moment.