Special Photo Buford graduate Melvin Harris trains with David Irons Sr. at Adams Stadium in Atlanta.
ATLANTA -- Melvin Harris didn't wait for the question. Like defenders the wide receiver attempts to make miss on the field, Harris tackled the looming issue of his career without prompting.
"Right now I am working on my character and working on building my self-esteem and confidence," the former Buford standout said. "Training, that is what it does for you. Right now, I am just trying to stay focused. I want to show everybody that I learned from my mistakes, my trials and tribulations at Ole Miss by making bad decisions. I learned from it and now it's all about moving forward."
It was a cold Tuesday and Harris was working out with trainer David Irons Sr., and a few other prospective pro players on an empty football field in DeKalb County. In a break, Harris stood winded but smiling.
"I've been playing football 17 years and I've never enjoyed it as much as I am now," said Harris, who will work out at Ole Miss' Pro Day on Thursday. "Hopefully I am going to take this next step in my career and just go from there."
That's a big statement for a player who won a state title in high school and played in the SEC. But the joy comes from righting his path after a rough two years. In 2010, Harris was the second leading receiver for Ole Miss with 30 receptions for 408 yards, including four catches and a touchdown against Alabama. But Harris missed the final game of the season after being cited for DUI and played sparingly in 2011 before then-head coach Houston Nutt dismissed him from the team.
"After I left Ole Miss, I didn't know where I was going, I didn't know if I was going to play football anymore," Harris said. "I didn't like feeling like that."
He transferred to North Alabama and played in 10 games last season, catching 10 passes for 265 yards and two of the Lions six touchdown passes of the season.
Instead of using his troubles as an excuse, Harris said he changed course and started attempting to rebuild his image and football outlook. He's having fun, but he treats his six-day-a-week workouts and training as a job.
"I am treating this like a business. High school, college (football) was more a game for me, but now I am trying to approach everything like it's more of a business. Some people still look at it as a game and those are the guys that make bad choices," Harris said. "I want to build a career. I want to leave a trademark."
Harris hopes to have his 40-yard dash time to around 4.3 seconds and his shuttle run to 4.0. He's thin, but he certainly has towering height, sprouting up after his Buford days. And if there's any indication Harris truly has averted his prior course it's the invitation to Oxford, Miss., and the Rebels' Pro Day. It's a different coaching staff welcoming a player back to campus.
"It's all about social networking and being a great person," Harris said. "For me being a great person they have given me a chance to show what I can do. I am looking forward to it. Going back and seeing all my old teammates, it's going to be great."
From there it's interviews and the draft and from there Harris will attack the next challenge.
"I know my business plan," Harris said. "I know where I want to go and I know where I want to be."