It was a fair question: After leading the country with eight interceptions as a junior at Virginia last season, would safety Anthony Harris be back for his senior year with the Cavaliers?
But Harris says it's something he didn't too much time pondering.
"No, I have a lot of great teammates here. We have a large senior class. Charlottesville is a great place; I want to finish up my education," Harris explained after a recent spring practice at UVa. "So I had a ton of reasons to come back, and extend my career here at UVa."
Harris started 11 of Virginia's 12 games last season -- he was forced to miss the first half of the Cavaliers' finale against Virginia Tech because of a targeting penalty the week prior at Miami -- and finished the year with 80 total tackles, including a sack. His eight interceptions were the most by a UVa player since Ronde Barber led the ACC with that same total in 1994. Harris also set a school record with interceptions in five consecutive games.
Following the season, Harris became the first UVa player since Eugene Monroe in 2008 to be named an All-American, receiving second-team honors from the Walter Camp Football Foundation. He was also a first-team All-ACC pick by both the league's coaches and media.
The 2013 season was the first for Harris under defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta. Tenuta is back this spring, and the UVa staff now includes safeties coach Mike Archer, who spent four years as head coach at LSU and seven as an assistant with the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers.
And Harris says based on what he has seen this spring, he expects the UVa defense to be more aggressive in its second season under Tenuta.
"Last spring was more of a kind of teaching period, whereas today, you just kind of take the reins off and let guys go, and correct mistakes in the film room," he said. "So guys are out there, they know what they're doing, and we're understanding what the offense wants to do to us. And the offense is understanding what the defense is trying to do. And in that aspect, we can play a lot faster, and it's showing up in practice."
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