Wendell Harris (born October 2, 1940 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) was an American football defensive back in the National Football League in the 1960s. He played college football at Louisiana State University and was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the 1962 NFL Draft. Harris, a first-round draft pick out of LSU became a gifted NFL kick and punt returner who played in other offensive positions as well, beginning his career in 1962 with the Baltimore Colts during a lackluster season coached by Ween Ewbank. Assigned to both special teams and right cornerback, he returned 10 kicks or punts; his yards per return were 28.7, highest among his special-teammates. (All statistics here were gathered from pro-football-reference.com.)
Sharing the field in 1963 with such luminaries as Johnny Unitas, and now coached by Don Shula, Harris returned 8 kicks for 198 yards, including a 41-yard run. His yards per return, 24.8, were eclipsed only by John Mackie's. For the year Harris wracked up 1000 yards, his team achieving 3rd place in the NFL West.
As Shula built the team, pushing it to 1st in the NFL West in 1964, Harris, #26, picked up 17 kicks and carried them for 214 yards, including a run of 39 yards. He also intercepted a ball for a 20-yard run.
In 1966 Harris moved to the New York Giants, a season of misery coached by Alle Sherman that left the Giants 8th in their division. Harris spent that longest season as a long-snapper for punters, with a total annual yardage of 9 for the year.
Harris then moved to the Canadian Football system. [Follow-up information here would be useful.]
By Dean Hanley
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