“It means the world to me.” Redblacks’ RJ Harris on helping the next generation of athletes

In 2015 R.J Harris became a professional athlete. The 6-foot, 195 pound Maryland raised receiver had a tremendous collegiate career at University of New Hampshire, racking up over 5,000 all purpose yards and 40 touchdowns in 49 games played, including 1,551 receiving yards and 15 receiving touchdowns as a senior in 2014 which gathered a lot of interest of NFL teams. He ended up latching onto a roster spot with the New Orleans Saints out of University in 2015 and came back in 2016 after a stint with the Atlanta Falcons as well. Unfortunately neither of those teams had Harris in their long term plans, but one team that did was the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks. After originally being signed by the Toronto Argonauts in Canada, then both the B.C Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the Ottawa Redblacks were able to see what R.J Harris could do for them in 2017. He ended up having quite the success out of the gate, playing alongside CFL all-stars Diontae Spencer, Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson at receiver, Harris caught 49 passes for 697 yards and two scores as a rookie and continued to have a similar role with the organization for the 2019 and 2021 CFL seasons as well. Going into what will be his fourth season in the CFL, Harris has over 2,000 yards receiving to his name in 44 regular season games, and is in for a big year on the field with the Ottawa Redblacks, but 2022 is not only going to go down as a big year on the field for Harris.

Off of the football field, R.J Harris has become a father of three, two girls and one boy with his fiance, and has established a name for himself as a coach and personal trainer in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. In his hometown he has been able to put on training sessions and privately train young football players. It is something that he has been wanting to do for some time now, and has finally been able to get to it over the past couple of years. “I’ve always been around the game in the offseason,” he told JZ Media’s Jordan Zlomislic, “in college I was involved, and I always try and find a small group of kids to work with and pass knowledge on. I know when I was younger I always took it as a big deal to be around the guys at the next level so I wanted to be that and more. I give these kids an opportunity, they can pick my brain and its even more than just football, grades and stuff outside of football is very important as well and I try and make that known. Being a pillar on and off the field is something I hope to be for a lot of kids coming up.”

These training sessions that he holds began in 2020, and he was originally going to have a big football camp in April of 2020 where a number of his teammates and close friends from football would help coach a large group of young athletes and hold an event for people to gather for. Unfortunately due to the coronavirus pandemic Harris wasn’t able to hold the event, but it didn’t take long for him to get into coaching anyways. He started RJ Harris Skill Development where he began to play the role of a coach in a number of young athletes’ lives, and eventually grew his trainings to be more and more. Talking about the opportunity to coach the next generation of athletes, Harris said, “It means the world, the kids nowadays are the future. They are going to be taking over. I want them to know what to expect. I didn’t have a true mentor that guided me, and it made my past a bit more difficult, and I want to be able to be that mentor for some kids and prepare them for some things that they will come across so they come up on top. 

Recently, Harris was able to take a group of kids he coaches on a University visit to Georgetown University.

When asked about having the chance to do something like that, which can ultimately change a young athlete’s life, R.J Harris said to Jordan Zlomislic, “Exposure equals expansion, getting them out before high school, a lot of them are younger, they’re in middle school and if I can show them the opportunities younger, it lights a fire in them to work more. Give them that exposure, and then put it in their head of what is possible, and show them how to get there on and off the field. They were in awh at these visits and it was truly awesome to see. I want to help them on and off of the football field and these are all opportunities to showcase what is possible, playing and even off of the football field around the game.

R.J Harris will be continuing his coaching whenever he gets the chance to. During his off-seasons he looks to capitalize on each and every opportunity he has, and what he does, with his intentions of helping athletes, will only grow bigger and bigger.

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