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Harris, Stancil hope to continue playing football

Dwight Harris (93). | Supplied photo

Dwight Harris (93). | Supplied photo

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Updated: August 5, 2013 6:32PM

Dwight Harris and Sherrod Stancil have concluded their college football careers.

Both Waubonsie Valley grads put an emphasis on “college” because they’re not ready to leave the game of football just yet.

Whether the Western Illinois football team won or lost, Harris, a defensive lineman, proved to be consistent.

Since his sophomore season, he had at least 29 tackles per year. He finished his college career with 105 tackles, 45 solos. He did not miss a start after his freshman season, starting all 35 games during his final three years and 39 overall.

“I will never forget the 2010 season,” Harris said. “It was not only the team’s best season, but I felt it was my best year as well. We competed for the MVC (Missouri Valley Conference) title and made it to the playoffs.”

It also set the table for Harris to earn All-MVC honorable mention status. One year later, his personal numbers were better and he was named to the all-conference team. As a junior, the 11-game starter finished with 37 tackles (12 solos). He had 5.5 tackles for 28 yards of loss, including three sacks.

As a senior, he finished with 29 tackles (18 solos). He also did some work behind the line of scrimmage, finishing with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. He had five quarterback hurries, two passes defended and two passes broken up.

“Football is such an intense team sport and that makes the bonding so important,” Harris said. “I love it. Through football, I learned so much about myself. It was really intense in the conference. There were no cake games. Even our teams that did not have great records could beat anyone else in the league if a better team was not playing as they should.”

Harris has attended one NFL Professional Day, which was held at Northwestern. During that time, he had a chance to chat with representatives from the Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons.

“It was great to be in front of the scouts and hear what they had to say,” he said. “If I would be fortunate enough to play in the pro ranks, I would just want the chance to contribute.

Besides his all-conference honor, Harris, who was a captain in 2012, was given the Western Illinois University Hustle Award in 2012.

The son of Dwight Sr. and Linda Harris, of Aurora, Harris earned his degree in sociology in December. He also earned a minor in business management. He made the dean’s list one semester.

“I hope to stay involved in sports or education somehow,” Harris said.

One can split the football success of McKendree University into two parts: the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics days and the NCAA Division II days.

Stancil was successful in both eras, but he definitely preferred the NAIA era.

“Our final year in the NAIA was 2010 and we had a great team,” he said. “We knew that we were going to be going to the NCAA Division II and we knew this was our chance to make some noise before we left the NAIA. We did just that.”

Stancil earned all-conference status in the Mid-States Football Association that year, but it was not his final all-conference honor. He was named to the All-Great Lakes Valley Conference second team as a senior. He was not named to an all-conference team as a junior because McKendree was a probationary member of the NCAA Division II and the GLVC.

Stancil, who played defensive end and defensive tackle, finished his senior season with 41 tackles, 24 solos. It was the most tackles in a single season in his career. He had 13.5 tackles totaling 61 yards in losses, including six sacks. He also had one quarterback hurry, one fumble recovery and one forced fumble.

For his college career, he finished with 116 tackles (70 solos). The 6-foot-1, 255-pound Naperville native had 33 tackles for 158 yards in losses as well as 16 sacks. McKendree was 3-5 in the GLVC during his senior season.

Stancil has been to Halas Hall in Lake Forest for the NFL Regional Combine.

“I was told to train to become a linebacker,” he said. “I have lost some weight and am much quicker now. I wish I would have played linebacker in college but the team needed me at other positions on the field.”

The son of Robert and Elizabeth Morrison, of Naperville, Stancil is working toward a degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminal justice.

“I hope to play some version of professional football, either in the NFL, NFL Europe or the Canadian Football League,” he said. “If that does not pan out, I eventually hope to be a federal agent. I am also entertaining the possibility of attending graduate school. But for the next two or three years, I am going to continue to train and hope I get a chance to play somewhere.”

The Beacon-News welcomes suggestions for inclusion in this weekly feature on athletes who have completed their collegiate athletic careers. Email information to and include “Beacon News” in the subject line.

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