If you’re one of the millions of people who channel surfed away from the big game because it was too (ahem) defensive, you can’t be blamed. Watching the Rams punt eight straight times to start the game wasn’t exactly riveting television. If you did that, though, you probably missed the television premier of another defensive standout, East Los Angeles College safety Antoinette “Toni” Harris.
The rising star was featured in Toyota’s new ad for the RAV-4, and boy was it eye-opening. We’ve seen other young women break barriers and compete on the football field, but unlike Becca Longo, who plays for NCAA Division II Adams State University, Toni isn’t a kicker. She’s a free safety, and the footage of her racing around the field and tackling is flat-out impressive.
She might not be ready to take Devon McCourty’s job on the Patriots top-ranked secondary just yet, but she’s no joke between the lines, either. She’s legit, and her play has been noticed by football programs higher up the NCAA food chain. She’s just received a scholarship offer to transfer from East Los Angeles to Bethany College, an NAIA school. If Harris were to accept the scholarship, she’d be the first woman to play at the Division II level or higher under scholarship, and at a skill position.
While her frame may seem small by major college football standards (5’7”, 164 lbs.) she certainly wouldn’t be the smallest player ever, even if she accomplished her dream and made it to the NFL. Trindon Holliday was drafted by the Texans in 2010 and played for six NFL teams in his career — he was only 5’5”.
If Harris goes on to achieve her NFL dreams, maybe she’ll share the field with one of our favorite players, Eagles DE Chris Long, who we featured a while back. We’re not the only ones who noticed his penchant for doing good in the world; he was just presented with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his charitable work.
Congrats, Toni and Chris! If you two ever meet in the huddle, you know we’ll be watching.