With just 27 days remaining until the team's regular season opener versus the Green Bay Packers, today's installment of Chicago Bears Countdown to Kickoff brings us to the life and career of the best player in franchise history to don the number 27, cornerback Walt Harris.
Walt Harris leads Mississippi State record books before joining Chicago Bears
A native of La Grange, Georgia, Walt Harris's football career began at his hometown high school, where he played in the defensive backfield. At La Grange High, Harris's best season came perhaps as a senior, where he helped his team clinch a Class 4A State Championship thanks to an impressive title game performance. In the championship round, Harris was a clutch performer and logged two late-game interceptions, the final of which clinched the game for his team. He also blocked a point after a touchdown attempt and nearly blocked a second kick late in the game.
Following his impressive championship game showing as a senior, Harris elected to attend Mississippi State University, where he would participate on the school's football team as a cornerback. He played sparingly as a freshman, but by the time he was a sophomore, Harris had already become a constant feature in the team's secondary. In his first year of playing, the Georgia native finished with an impressive six interceptions, by far the most on the team for the 1993 season.
As a junior, Harris had a similar impact on the defense and again led the team with six interceptions. He was able to return one for a touchdown as well, adding to the six total pick-sixes that the Bulldogs' defense generated in 1994. The following year, Harris's pick total dropped to four, but he was able to return another for a touchdown and finished his senior campaign with an impressive 24-game starting streak dating back to his time as a sophomore.
Harris finished his Mississippi State career with 16 interceptions, a school record, and a mark that still stands today. This is incredibly impressive when thinking about the number of NFL defensive backs that have come from the program, including Stephon Gilmore, Darius Slay, and this year's rookie Emmanuel Forbes, who fell just two shy of Harris's record.
Nonetheless, after one of the best careers that any Mississippi State football has had, Harris elected to enter the 1996 NFL Draft, where he was selected with the 13th overall pick by the Chicago Bears. Harris was the first player selected by the Chicago Bears and was just the second defensive back taken in his class.