J-Shun Harris knows how to return kicks. We all saw that last year when he returned 14 punts for 266 yards and two touchdowns in only seven games.
Harris’ yards per return average was good for 3rd in the Big Ten and 11th nationally. In addition to the touchdowns, he also added a 53-yard return to set up a fourth quarter TD against No. 17 Michigan.
Unfortunately for Harris, he has also mastered the art of another kind of return — the return from ACL injuries. The redshirt senior suffered a season-ending ACL injury during the Maryland game last season. It was his third such injury since joining the Indiana program in 2014.
Despite the injury shortened 2017 season, Harris did enough to earn Honorable mention All-Big Ten (coaches and media). He also won the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week twice (Virginia and Georgia Southern — the two games that he returned punts for TDs).
If you need a player to get behind on the 2018 Hoosiers, Harris is your guy. Beyond just being a highly likable person off the field, something that is readily apparent in his interview below, he just needs to catch a break. Unfortunately he has caught more tears than breaks.
The Fishers, Indiana native also suffered season ending ACL injuries prior to the start of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He received a medical redshirt after the 2015 injury.
Few could blame Harris if he just wanted to hang it up at this point. Ask anyone about the recovery from a major injury and you’ll hear stories about a long, painful, lonely process that you never want to go through again. The love of the game keeps Harris going.
“There’s something about this sport. I was blessed with the opportunity to play here with a full ride. Just being a part of this atmosphere was hard to get rid of. It was a no-brainer. My family gets the opportunity to watch me again.”
After his explosive start to the 2017 season, there is little doubt that his knees can heal, and he can come back from serious injuries. The good news is that Harris said that his knee feels just like it did after the first two recoveries. If anyone should know how you should feel at this point in your recovery, it’s Harris.
As a freshman, it looked like the sky was the limit for speedy receiver, with understandable comparisons to NFL bound Shane Wynn for the relatively diminutive receiver. During that 2014 season, Harris caught 18 passes for 168 yards with two touchdowns. He finished third on the team in yardage and fourth in receptions.
The rewards and accolades followed, as Harris was named a 247Sports.com Big Ten All-Freshman, honorable mention BTN.com All-Freshman, and IU’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year.
But now is not the time to look back and think about what might have been.
Harris version 4.0 says that he will be fully ready to go before the 2018 season starts. He’s already doing everything else that his teammates are doing including squats and dead lifts. He said he feels strong and fast, and he is already at 90 to 100 percent with 10 weeks to go before the opening kickoff.
The return man is ready to return once again.
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