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New Oxford High School graduate Erik Harris named team captain with Las Vegas Raiders

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Erik Harris

Erik Harris' long-and-winding football journey has reached a new pinnacle.

The 2008 New Oxford High School graduate has been named a team captain for the Las Vegas Raiders.

Harris, a starting free safety, will be joined as the Vegas captains by quarterback Derek Carr, linebacker Kyle Wilber, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, center Rodney Hudson and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.

It will be Harris' first season as a team captain with the Raiders. It is also the Raiders' first season in Las Vegas after leaving Oakland.

The 6-foot, 2-inch, 220-pound Harris has become a mainstay in the Raiders' secondary. In 2019, in his first season as a full-time starter, Harris had 74 tackles, including 64 solo hits. He also had three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He averaged nearly 50 yards per interception return.

Harris' route to a starting role in the NFL was anything but direct. The 30-year-old had to walk on to California University of Pennsylvania, an NCAA Division II program, where he excelled.

Then, after going undrafted by the NFL, he spent a summer as a corn mixer at the Utz potato chip factory and another as an overnight supervisor at UPS while finishing his degree in criminal justice.

He eventually earned a roster berth with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League before later getting signed by the New Orleans Saints in 2016. The Saints later released him and he was signed by the Raiders in 2017.

Since joining the Raiders, Harris has consistently drawn praise from head coach Jon Gruden. Late last season, Gruden said "you can't say enough about Erik Harris." He had also previously called Harris' development as "stunning."

Before the 2019 season, Harris signed a two-year, $5 million contract with the Raiders, including $1,075,000 in guaranteed salary. In 2020, Harris will earn a base salary of $2,350,000, a workout bonus of $150,000 and a incentive bonus of $750,000.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.