PULLMAN – Travell Harris is debuting as Washington State’s new kick returner this season, but up until Saturday’s game against Eastern Washington, the redshirt sophomore wide receiver hadn’t had many opportunities to do what he does best: return kicks.
In games against Wyoming and San Jose State, most of the opponent’s kickoffs were drilled deep into the end zone, denying Harris of the opportunity to bring the ball out and showcase all of his tricks.
Then Andre Slyter gave WSU’s swift rookie a chance, in the second quarter of Saturday’s game at Martin Stadium. Knowing he may not have been many throughout the course of the season, Harris didn’t waste it.
He caught the ball a few feet inside the end zone and took off down the right sideline, picking up a few blocks – including a major one from Keith Harrington – before maneuvering through the rest of the white jerseys trying to bring him down and eventually winning a footrace for a 100-yard touchdown return.
“I seen the ball high. It was kind of outside and I just caught it,” Harris said after the game. “I seen them kind of knife in and after that I just followed Keith and I’m going after that. I made a cut an it’s off to the races.”
“It’s crazy. I want to score so bad and I know I can’t get caught. Because I know I’m going to hear from my team if I get caught.”
It was WSU’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since 2016, when former Cougar safety brought one back in a win over Arizona State in Tempe. That one also went for 100 yards.
“I been waiting on this opportunity for a long time,” Harris said. “A long time. I’m glad it unfolded this way and thanks to my guys who blocked for me.”
The blocking was key, said WSU coach Mike Leach.
“I thought a couple of things that were good, we got several key blocks which I feel are routine but the thing is to hit them all in a row,” he said. “And then I thought Travell does a real good job seeing the field and cutting off those blocks. And as the other guy was pursuing he weak-hipped him and got behind everybody.”
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