Harris led Charleston High School to the state Class AAA championship his senior year with a 10-0-1 record and won All-State honors. At WVU, he was considered one of the two most outstanding freshmen but had missed all of spring training in 1971. It was thought that if he could catch up fast that fall, he would play a lot and possibly move into a starting role. His sophomore year, he played defensive tackle, middle guard and was considered an offensive lineman until he finally made it to defensive end. He was said to have outstanding balance for his size.