published Monday, July 30th, 2012

Chattanooga Mocs' Lewis-Harris waited for NFL shot

UTC safety Chris Lewis-Harris gets ready to practice at Finley Stadium.
UTC safety Chris Lewis-Harris gets ready to practice at Finley Stadium.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Chris Lewis-Harris never gave up on his dream. Even after the NFL Draft came and went, along with the seemingly endless run of free-agent signings, the former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga defensive back believed he'd get his chance.

That faith was rewarded last week when the Cincinnati Bengals called on Wednesday and signed the former All-Southern Conference player, who split time between cornerback and safety during his four years as a starter.

"I knew I was going to get a shot somewhere," said Lewis-Harris, who started 38 games and had five interceptions in his career. "I hadn't given up yet — I was going to wait until at least mid-August before I started to look for other options."

During UTC's pro day in early April, with more than a dozen NFL scouts on hand — primarily to see quarterback B.J. Coleman — Lewis-Harris ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and excelled in most of the other events, as well.

"Ever since my pro day my people had been interacting with some teams, and the Bengals called me up [Wednesday] and I ended up flying out that night," he said. "I worked out for them [Thursday] morning and then signed with them."

With training camp opening last Friday, the Bengals needed a defensive back due to injuries to several players. Lewis-Harris will have to really shine to stick with the team, but he has the chance he's waited so long to get.

Montgomery not returning

Safety Cam Montgomery, who redshirted as a freshman last season, will not be returning to the team, Mocs coach Russ Huesman said.

"It was probably best if he moved on — for him, for everybody," Huesman said.

Montgomery was initially suspended in the spring along with freshmen T.J. Thompson and Clim Robbins, while UTC police investigated a series of burglaries on campus. Montgomery was cleared and returned for the second half of spring practice, while Robbins and Thompson were arrested on multiple burglary and theft charges.

The Mocs have four freshmen defensive backs coming, as well as former Northwest Whitfield High School standout and North Carolina State transfer Dean Haynes and walk-on transfer William Beaird, who spent last year at the Navy Academy Preparatory School.

Early starts

The Mocs report for preseason practice Thursday and will begin practice at 3 p.m. Friday at Scrappy Moore Field. Most of UTC's practices during camp will begin at 7:45 a.m.

UTC will have three two-a-day practices, the first is Aug. 8, but the team will also have an off day on Aug. 15. The team will scrimmage at Finley Stadium on Aug. 11 and 19.

about John Frierson...

John Frierson is in his seventh year at the Times Free Press and seventh year covering University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletics. The bulk of his time is spent covering Mocs football, but he also writes about women’s basketball and the big-picture issues and news involving the athletic department. A native of Athens, Ga., John grew up a few hundred yards from the University of Georgia campus. Instead of becoming a Bulldog he attended Ole ...

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