Jacory or J12? Either way, ‘Canes hopes rest on QB

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CORAL GABLES, FLA. (AP) - Miami quarterback Jacory Harris is a quiet person by nature. Not flamboyant. Doesn’t strive to be the life of the party. Sort of an introvert, really.

And then there’s J12.

“Total opposite,” Harris said.

College football, meet J12. Harris‘ alter ego. Miami’s gameday leader. And the unquestioned key to the Hurricanes’ hopes in 2010.

When 13th-ranked Miami opens its season Sept. 2 against Florida A&M, all eyes will be on No. 12 when the Hurricanes’ offense takes the field. After throwing for 3,352 yards and 24 touchdowns in his first season as a starter, the 195-pound junior knows he can be among the elite in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Now it’s time, he says, for both he and Miami to take a big step forward.

That’s where J12 _ what he calls himself _ comes into play.

“I’d say J12 is the guy who’s completely confident about everything and has fun, loosens up when he gets on the field,” Harris said in an interview with The Associated Press. “On the field, in the huddle, that’s when he comes out. Then off the field, I’m my regular self. No one sees J12 off the field. I never intertwine the two.”

Maybe not anymore. But the two sort of did intertwine at times last year, to Harris‘ detriment.

Oddly enough, if Harris has one regret from 2009, it wouldn’t stem from any of the 17 interceptions _ second-most in major college football. He was picked off three times in a loss to Clemson, stunning for the fact that Miami wasted seven leads in the game. And three weeks later, Harris threw four more interceptions in a loss to North Carolina, a defeat that doomed the Hurricanes’ ACC hopes.

No, in Harris‘ mind, his biggest mistake might have come early in the season.

When Miami defied oddsmakers and pundits to beat Oklahoma, Florida State and Georgia Tech in the first month of the 2009 campaign, Harris-for-Heisman talk was all the rage. And he bought into it, too, especially after a tongue-in-cheek comment he made to a radio show about planning to wear a pink suit to the Heisman presentation took on a life of its own.

The pink suit never appeared. Harris didn’t last in the Heisman race. And the ‘Canes sputtered, going 4-3 in their last seven games.

“When you get a lot of accolades, of course it’s going to get to your head,” wide receiver LaRon Byrd said. “We’re all teenagers. We’re all humans at the end of the day. We know that now.”

They’re not all teenagers, but young enough to make Byrd’s point.

Starting 3-1 last season turned Miami into a bunch of rock stars, and their quarterback _ part of football royalty in South Florida, simply by being a local kid who became the starter at Quarterback U _ was the bandleader. So he started pressing, trying to do too much, forcing passes that weren’t there.

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