INDIANAPOLIS — When former UW center Nick Harris takes the field at Lucas Oil Stadium for workouts at the NFL combine Friday night, he’ll do so with a recently acquired tribute to a Seattle cultural icon that drew the interest of at least one well-known coach this week.
When fellow Husky teammate Trey Adams joins him for those same workouts, he’ll carry with him something he recently acquired that can’t be as easily seen: fresh perspective about football and its place in his life.
Both will be hoping to improve, or at least solidify, their draft projections — Adams likely in the second or third rounds, Harris maybe just a little bit later.
Even before workouts, though, Harris has already made an impression on Tampa Bay coach Bruce Arians, who almost immediately noticed a tattoo on Harris’ leg in his official visit with Bucs coaches. The tattoo is of Jimi Hendrix, the Garfield High graduate who helped revolutionize rock music in the 1960s.
“He was just asking me, like, ‘Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago,’’’ Harris recalled. “He was like, ‘What do you know about that?’’’
Turns out, quite a bit.
Harris said the tattoo actually has nothing to do with his time spent in Seattle as a Husky. Instead, he said he’s “a big fan” of Hendrix, often listening to him with an uncle down in his native Los Angeles. Harris only recently decided to get the tattoo after he returned to southern California for training following the end of Washington’s season.
Training, he says, has gone well — he weighed in earlier this week at 302 pounds, which he calls “ideal.’’
As much as anything physical, though, Harris hopes to show off his football knowledge to teams during formal and informal interviews, an attribute that allowed him to step into a part-time starting role as a true freshman at UW in 2016, then become a full-time starter the next three years.
“That’s something I pride myself on, especially being a center,” he said. “I tried to keep those guys going at UW. We watched a lot of film. And I watched it by myself too. At home on my TV, my iPad, my phone. With coaches, without coaches. I just love doing it. It’s just fun. I’d rather do that than play video games. I don’t even play video games.”
Adams, too, spent time during his media session attesting to how much he loves football, which he admits he didn’t really appreciate until enduring injury-riddled 2017 and 2018 seasons with knee and back injuries that held him to just 11 games.
He now says the injuries and time away may have been “a silver lining.”
“I think it did a lot for me, whether it be just being able to refocus or being able to see my life without football, which was kind of different, but good,” he said. “I got to do that and got to realize that I really love the sport. And I wouldn’t be here (at the combine), I don’t think, if I didn’t get hurt.”
He came back to play every game last season for the Huskies, which he thinks has gone a long way toward quelling any fears about his health. He said most teams he talked to the first few days in Indianapolis hadn’t really brought it up.
“I feel like I’m stronger than I have ever been,” said Adams, who officially measured 6 feet, 8 inches and 318 pounds (he was listed at 314 last year at UW) and has been working out with fellow UW teammates Hunter Bryant and Salvon Ahmed at Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue since the end of the season. “Training has been going really well. That said, the physicals have been easy for me, so just been cruising right now.”
As he spoke, he was reminded that if everything had gone as originally planned, he might’ve been at the combine two years ago.
Before the knee injury in 2017, there had been speculation Adams might declare for the draft following that season — he was a first-team All-Pac 12 pick as a true sophomore in 2016.
Instead, he stayed at UW for two more seasons.
“It’s awesome man,” he said of finally making it to Indianapolis. “A long time coming, obviously, but I’m just excited to be here. I wouldn’t change my experience at Washington for anything. Glad I came back, glad I got to finish up playing all their games last year and that I’m finally here, which is cool.”