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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Treon Harris brings big-game experience into UGA matchup

<p>UF quarterback Treon Harris prepares to pass during Florida's 35-28 loss to LSU on Oct. 17, 2015, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.</p>

UF quarterback Treon Harris prepares to pass during Florida's 35-28 loss to LSU on Oct. 17, 2015, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

When people talk about Florida sophomore quarterback Treon Harris, much of the conversation revolves around what he’s lacking.

He isn’t tall enough.

His arm isn’t the most strong or the most accurate.

He doesn’t make decisions quickly enough.

But what is often overlooked is what the sophomore does have — experience playing in big games in some of the most hostile environments in college football, paired with the ability to handle the situation.

"He’s a gamer," offensive lineman Trip Thurman said.

In just the bits and pieces of two seasons Harris has played in during his time in Gainesville, he has already competed in Neyland Stadium (Tennessee), Doak Campbell Stadium (Florida State), Tiger Stadium (LSU) and the split-stadium atmosphere of the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville.

While the quarterback was far from impressive in all of those games, he managed to make plays when necessary — whether it be with his feet, where Harris is arguably the most dangerous, or through the air, where he was serviceable but not extraordinary.

And in each game, the Gators either came away with the victory or had a chance to win on their final possession in every single one of them.

Now, the Gators and coach Jim McElwain will be hoping the sophomore iteration of Harris will see similar success at Everbank Field in Jacksonville.

With the annual world's largest outdoor cocktail party looming against the Bulldogs on Saturday, Harris’ demeanor and composure in such games is a confidence booster for his team.

"Coming from where he’s from, he’s always had to play in big games so I feel like atmospheres like that don’t really have much effect on him," defensive back Quincy Wilson said. "That’s the type of person he is.

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"I just think he’s a really focused guy, and that stuff just really doesn’t play an effect on him."

Playing in big matchups started for Harris long before he came to UF.

The quarterback played high school football at Booker T. Washington, one of the top high school football factories in Florida.

There, he played in numerous high-profile games while accounting for 117 total touchdowns in three seasons at the helm.

During those three years, he helped lead his team to back-to-back state championships in 2012 and 2013, as well as a runner-up spot in 2011.

"You look at the historical background of Treon himself, he won a few ball games in high school," coach Jim McElwain said. "That was a pretty darn successful program he came from.

"The stage is not too big for him. That’s the least of the worries."

Of greater worry for McElwain would be whether Harris can provide a more balanced offensive attack than he did in last year’s Georgia game.

Harris didn’t do much in the 2014 contest against the Bulldogs, completing just three passes while only attempting six as the Gators’ rushing game dominated en route to a 38-20 victory.

But according to wide receiver Brandon Powell, who like Harris was also a freshman in last year’s game, simply having witnessed the environment and felt the magnitude of the game in person once already is a significant advantage.

"They tried to tell me last year, but once you get on that field and see black on one side and orange and blue on the other side, it’s crazy," Powell said.

"How crazy the fans go when you make a play — you’ve just got to experience it. You can’t tell someone how crazy the game is."

Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24

UF quarterback Treon Harris prepares to pass during Florida's 35-28 loss to LSU on Oct. 17, 2015, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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