The unsung hero in the game last week against the 49ers was kick and punt returner, Deonte Harris. Who is he and where did he come from?
The New Orleans Saints 5-foot-6 170-pound speedster was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. His current position with the Saints is a wide receiver, but he is arguably the best return specialist this year in the entire NFL.
He was an undrafted free agent out of Assumption College in Massachusetts. He holds nine Assumption College school records.
After spending the preseason with the New Orleans Saints, the undrafted free agent earned his way the hard way to a contract with the Saints. One of his preseason highlights is a 78-yard kick return touchdown against the New York Jets.
From that moment, he earned a starting spot as the Saints’ primary special teams returner.
A name that was unknown to most until last Sunday, quickly became a name many were wondering more about. Deonte Harris made his mark in the first half with two kickoff returns and a punt return for 107 yards (his longest being 51 yards).
Harris went on to finish with 213 all-purpose yards involving 155 yards on kick returns, 37 yards on punt returns, one reception for 13 yards and a rush for 8 yards. He’s had his ups and downs, but Harris has come on strong the back half of the season.
The New Orleans Saints have a second Swiss Army knife amongst their ranks. Taysom Hill, the other multipurpose player, also has had multiple games at multiple positions.
Deonte Harris might be an unknown name, but he is a huge reason as to the close loss against the 49ers on Sunday. He has previously been a big reason for games in the past.
The ability to quickly put Drew Brees into excellent field position is a task that goes unpraised but is highly needed. The ability of Sean Payton and Mike Westhoff to develop the talent Harris has is another proving attribute to the coaching staff in New Orleans.
Look for Harris to continue to carry a full load of returning and for him to continue to make big impacts in big games, getting the Saints into primary field position. He will continue to be responsible for some of Drew Brees’ and the Saints’ success going forward.
He is a future Pro-Bowler.