The wide smile on Corione Harris' face is a dead giveaway to the comfort level he has as he prepares to play in Saturday's HBCU Legacy Bowl at Yulman Stadium on Tulane's campus.
And, well, why wouldn't he be?
The Southern University safety graduated from Landry-Walker High School in New Orleans, and was a four-star recruit in 2017 before signing to play at Kansas, and later transferring to McNeese State before finishing his collegiate career at Southern.
"This is a big opportunity," Harris said. "We're having it down here in my city, being able to come out here and showcase myself in front of the scouts and be at home, it's big for me.
"Feel like I'm back in high school."
The major difference is that rather than attempting to tempt a college program into offering a scholarship, Harris is looking for a next-level job that'll include compensation. Not that the money is all he's after, he said.
"I think my passion for the game," is the driving force. "I love playing football. Being able to go out there and just show them my energy, how much I love it – like, yeah, getting paid for it is cool but I'm out there for the love of the game. Being able to provide that type of heart and energy to the team, I feel like every team would love that."
Harris finished his final year at Southern with four interceptions (returned for 162 yards, and a touchdown), three tackles for loss and 59 tackles. He played three seasons at Kansas, totaling two forced fumbles, an interception and 69 tackles in 28 games. And in his season at McNeese, he had seven passes defensed, two sacks, three tackles for loss and 52 tackles.
"I went through a lot of adversity throughout my college career, but being at Kansas and then going to McNeese (State) and finishing at Southern, you see a lot of different things," Harris said. "I played against a lot of different players, player who are currently in the league and players who are about to be in the league. Being able to see all that and see the diversity is really big."
Harris, 6 feet 1 and 170 pounds, said the week of practice for the Legacy Bowl has provided the opportunity to work on his feet and ball skills, though he has been a harsh self-critic.
"Whatever I don't know, I feel like I should know," he said.
But, too, like his teammates on Team Robinson – and their opponents, playing for Team Gaither – most of them haven't played a game since November or December. Training to stay in shape, and training to play in a game, require different methods.
"I wouldn't say it's hard, but it's going from training and limited contact and you don't really get to get all of the one-on-one reps, even with the pads on," he said. "The first day – the first day was crazy. But we're going to be straight, just need a couple of days to get right and we'll be good."
So far, it's been pretty good overall. There's a chance to play in the second HBCU Legacy Bowl, in his hometown, in front of family and friends. And there's the added bonus of doing so alongside six teammates from Southern who join him in playing for Team Robinson.
"It feels good, and we've got some coaches on the staff, too," he said, laughing. "So it feels like we're back at the crib."
Photos from HBCU Legacy Bowl practice at Tulane's Yulman Stadium on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023.