Louisville’s Mario Urrutia waits for a pass during the team’s football practice recently. Urrutia is the 6-foot-6, 228-pound prototype wide receiver with the frame, size and speed that has NFL scouts predicting he’ll be a surefire first-round pick.
Louisville’s Harry Douglas catches a pass during the team’s football practice in Louisville, Ky., recently. Douglas and teammate Mario Urrutia are arguably the best receiving tandem in the country this year.AP photos
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The jeans are nearly gone from Harry Douglas’ wardrobe. Ditto the sneakers, T-shirts and baseball caps that cram the closets (and floors) of your average college football players’ apartment.
Most days you’ll find the Louisville wide receiver nattily clad in a shirt and tie, a fashion makeover Douglas began over the summer while working as an intern at a local law firm.
“I’m getting a little older, I wanted to take a more business approach,” said Douglas, who graduated in May with a degree in political science and is mulling a future in corporate law.
Douglas will leave the jeans to teammate Mario Urrutia, the laid back yin to Douglas’ fiery yang.
On the surface, they are the 10th-ranked Cardinals’ odd couple. On the field, they are arguably the best receiving tandem in the country.
Urrutia is the 6-foot-6, 228-pound prototype wide receiver with the frame, the size and the speed that already has NFL scouts predicting he’ll be a surefire first-round pick whenever he leaves his hometown school.
Big and strong on the field, he is quiet off it. Urrutia speaks in short, measured sentences, his deep voice almost a whisper at times.
“Sometimes he may express something, sometimes he may not,” Douglas said. “But it doesn’t affect the way he plays on the field. He’s a great player.”
One that suffered in silence last year. Urrutia developed a painful case of shin splints early in the season that cut into his practice time and made each step painful.
“I couldn’t do all the things I wanted to, but I just had the mindset of going out there and fighting through it,” said Urrutia, who finished with 58 receptions for 973 yards and six touchdowns. “It was one of those things that wasn’t going to heal right away, so you have to just keep going.”
Urrutia’s goal this season is to help the Cardinals finish what they started last year, and prove there’s no better one-two punch in the nation in the process
“Hands down I think we are (the best tandem),” he said. “We just want it so bad, we feel like we’re the total package.”
A package that can’t be judged by the wrapping. The two almost play against type. It’s Urrutia, not Douglas, that is more prone to going deep and leaping over any defender who tries to get in his way.
Douglas prefers recklessly flinging his 5-11, 175-pound body over the middle. Most of his school-record 1,265 receiving yards came on crossing patterns as Douglas darted in front of linebackers and safeties, almost daring them to hit him.
The unquestioned emotional leader of the receiving corps, Douglas admits he plays with a grudge. Considered a long shot to be an impact player coming out of high school, Douglas plays with the physical confidence of someone 50 pounds heavier, a condition Urrutia jokingly calls “Little Man Syndrome.”
“I like aggression,” Douglas said with a laugh. “That’s why I play football and not basketball. I like the physical part of the game. Big hits get me started.”
Not that they come too often. Opponents rarely get a clean shot at the shifty Douglas, and those who do don’t always come off on the better end of the transaction. Douglas’ eyes light up recalling a game against Army his freshman season when he was blindsided while playing on the kickoff team.
“I couldn’t wait to get back out there,” Douglas said. “I was the safety guy and I did my job, but then I came back around and he didn’t see me and I got him.”