When Carl Harry was 13 years old, a young assistant coach signed Carl's older brother, Emile, to play football at Stanford. There was a big celebration - family, friends, breakfast at the house. As he was leaving, the coach turned to Carl and said, "I'll be back to get you in a few years."
And so he was. Five years later, Jim Fassel was back. But this time he was wearing different colors. He had gone from Stanford cardinal to Utah crimson as the Utes' head coach. And the second Harry to play college football was soon playing for Fassel.There was never a plan in Carl's mind to follow his older brother. He did that until he was 18. "All I ever heard about was my brother - academically and athletically," he says. Emile was an honors student and an all-America receiver in high school.
So Carl made up his mind to make his own way, once he got out of high school in Fountain Valley, Calif. "One thing I knew I didn't want to do," said Harry, "was follow my brother to college."
As much as Harry tried to avoid following his brother, he took the same path in many ways. Both were excellent students and multi-sport athletes at Fountain Valley High. Emile went on to hook up with John Elway in a deadly passing combination at Stanford. He is now playing with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Harry children grew up in the pleasant setting of Orange County, the children of a biochemist father and a homemaking mother. Concerned about injuries to young bodies, Alvin and Nilene Harry kept their boys from playing tackle football until they got into high school, giving them a rather late start into the game.
They made up ground fast.
Education became a major priority. Carl and Emile were honor students at Fountain Valley High - a massive school of about 4,000 students. All of the six Harry children have attended college. A third son is attending the University of San Francisco. One daughter is in nursing school and another attended UCLA and is soon to marry. The youngest daughter is a student at San Jose State. "Education was a big priority. The top priority," says his mother.
Carl lettered in three sports at Fountain Valley and was named Adidas honorable mention all-America. But soon he was planning his escape from Emile's shadow. Recruiters from Oregon, Tennesee, Hawaii and BYU contacted him, but when Utah and Fassel came calling, Harry took a look at the high-tech passing offense and asked where to sign.
At a smallish 5-foot-9, 150 pounds, not everyone in the world wanted him. But with 4.4 speed, he wasn't something to ignore, either.
Fassel got Harry into the spotlight early in his freshman year. Harry came in on special teams in the final moment of the 1985 season-opener against Boise State and blocked a punt attempt, setting up the winning field goal.
Last season Harry caught 826 yards worth of passes, highest on the team. After consulting with receivers coach Fred Graves, he went on an off-season weight-training program and put on 12 pounds, bringing him up to around 170 and putting him in better shape to take a season's worth of punishment.
This year he served notice with a couple of 70-yard receptions in the season opener against Idaho State. He took in two touchdown catches against Illinois, one against Hawaii and added seven catches against UTEP. Harry ranks fourth nationally in receiving (7.5 catches per game) and leads the WAC in touchdown receptions (8), total catches (30) and total yards (522).
However successful he becomes, Harry says his life is not entirely centered around football. Most of his social activities don't include teammates. He enjoys relaxing with small groups of friends, playing recreational sports, shopping and writing poetry. He avoids being the center of attention at gatherings and has been known to drive up the canyons near Salt Lake to be alone and write poetry. It covers a variety of subjects - feelings, life, sports, family, nature. "I haven't shown my writing to many people," he says. "It's more of a personal thing."
"The thing that made Carl different is his sensitivity," says his mother. "Carl and I were very close. He was the one who could call and talk about everything."
"Everything" includes the Utes' awful record. So far they are 1-3 and fading after last weekend's loss to UTEP. But Harry remains optimistic.
He is also convinced that after four years of playing football at Utah he has made his own name. "I'll never be out from under my brother's shadow," says Harry. "But I feel I've proven to myself that I can play football and be my own person."