Jonesboro native Harry Douglas grew up cheering for the Falcons and looking up to players like Andre Rison. Now suiting up in the same colors as his former football idols, Douglas impressed coaches in the team’s post-draft workouts, and the 23-year-old wide receiver is battling for the No. 3 spot on the depth chart behind starters Roddy White and Laurent Robinson. As part of a series introducing the Falcons rookies, Douglas spoke with Times sports editor Brent Holloway about adjusting to the NFL — with some help from another Georgia native — and about his aspirations for a career after football.
Question: Coming to Atlanta is kind of a homecoming for you. Were you hoping to get picked by the Falcons?
Answer: Yeah. As I kid I dreamed of playing for the Falcons. I grew up watching them, and I’ve always been a fan. So while the draft was going on, I was kind of hoping. But at the same time, you never know who’s going to take you. I’m just glad that it worked out and I’m back playing in my home state. It’s a blessing.
Q: Did you have an NFL player who you looked up to or patterned your game after?
A: Yeah, (Seahawks wide receiver) Deion Branch. He’s my mentor. He used to come by and we’d get together for workouts, and he taught me a lot of stuff.
Q: How did you hook up with him?
A: He played at Louisville and he would come back pretty often. And he’s from Georgia, also — South Georgia.
Q: At what point did y’all start working together?
A: The summer of my junior year.
Q: What all have you learned from Deion?
A: In the NFL, the holes and the openings are smaller, and everything has to be precise. So, route running is big, and — me being fast — it’s better for me to use my speed than to try being physical; just little things like that.
Q: With him helping out, has the transition to the NFL been an easy one for you?
A: Yeah, I don’t think it’s been too bad for me. Like I said, the holes are smaller on an NFL field than they are on a college field, and the guys are bigger. But the main thing is you just have to be there mentally.
Q: Your brother Toney is the starting point guard for Florida State’s basketball team, and you were All-State in basketball when you played at Jonesboro (High School). When did you know that football was going to be your future?
A: When I hit camp my freshman year of college.
Q: You were still thinking about basketball up to that point?
Q: What changed your mind?
A: Practice. I realized I was going to have to choose one sport. Plus, I love the physical game of football, and that’s another reason I chose it over basketball.
Q: I’ve heard that law school is in your future. What interests you there?
A: Since I was 4, I wanted to be a lawyer. I graduated (from Louisville) in May of ’07, and all last year I worked in a law firm, and I liked it.
Q: So when you get time, what do you like to do outside of football?
A: Since me and my brother are best friends, I like to spend time with him because he looks up to me. So I always do what I can to help him out. I also like to read law books, and of course study my playbook. Just spend time with my family, mainly though.