Bomber off to a flying start

Blue Bombers receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris is off to one of hottest starts in CFL history. (QMI...

Blue Bombers receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris is off to one of hottest starts in CFL history. (QMI AGENCY)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:28 PM ET

When Terence Jeffers-Harris was 14 years old, he couldn’t catch a cold.

“Surprisingly enough, I had terrible hands while I was playing corner all through little league,” the rookie Bomber receiver said Wednesday.

As a result, his life goal was to make money on the defensive side of the ball.

“That is where people with bad hands go, and I had bad hands, I’ll tell you that,” Jeffers-Harris said. “My dream was to play defensive back at the professional level. It was.

“I used to hate receivers. I used to want to take their heads off.”

Now he’s the one hauling in the pigskin, and others are trying to remove his skull from his body. The 22-year-old is off to one of the hottest starts in CFL history, hauling in 18 catches for 325 yards and three touchdowns in his first four games.

He is tied for sixth in receiving yards with B.C.’s Geroy Simon. The group behind him includes names like Watkins, Armstrong, Fantuz, Lewis, Bruce, Richardson, Copeland and Cahoon. The rookie admits he probably doesn’t realize just how good the start to his pro career has been.

“I probably don’t. I probably really don’t,” he said. “I’m coming here out to play football, you know, and really the numbers are a reflection of what you’re putting on the field.

“… I’m loving it. I’m enjoying it. I’m taking it all in. Every minute, every practice, every play, every game, I’m taking it all in, from day one to now.”

Jeffers-Harris ultimately learned to catch when his dad, Trent Harris, told him that even cornerbacks had to be able to catch the ball. Luckily for Jeffers-Harris, one of his high school coaches in Atlanta was former Falcons receiver Floyd Hodge, who took the young football player under his wing in Grade 9 and put him on the offensive side of the ball.

Jeffers-Harris was eventually recruited by the University of Connecticut Huskies, where he started 21 of 25 games. He transferred to Vanderbilt after two seasons because he wasn’t happy with UConn’s offence.

“I don’t feel like we attacked enough back then,” Jeffers-Harris said. “We were 9-4 (in 2007). I felt like we could’ve easily been 11-2 with the Big East championship.”

So Jeffers-Harris transferred to Vanderbilt in hopes of playing in a more aggressive system. He had to sit out the 2008 season due to the transfer rule, but his plan hit a snag when he was ruled academically ineligible for the 2009 campaign.

Think of something you love and then contemplate not doing it for two years. Jeffers-Harris called it the “worst time, probably, of my life.” He could only watch the Commodores play on Saturdays. “It was motivating and depressing at the same time.”

So while the 6-foot-2, 216-pound receiver’s hot start with the Bombers is impressive enough, the fact it came after a two-year layoff makes it even more astounding.

Not only does Jeffers-Harris hold on to every ball thrown his way, he is fast and a physical force after he catches it. As a matter of fact, Jeffers-Harris has more receiving yards after the catch (a league-leading 207) than all but 16 CFL receivers have when it comes to regular receiving yards.

“He’s very athletic,” quarterback Steven Jyles said. “He’s a big guy, he can break tackles, and he can make things happen once he gets the ball in his hands.”

Jeffers-Harris is unique for another reason: He is a rare CFLer who is still eligible to declare for the NFL draft, which is something he may do next spring.

But first things first.

“I just want to concentrate on the football right now,” he said. “I’m more than grateful and appreciative of the opportunity they’ve given me.”

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


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