Beyond the Game: Panthers Demetrius Harris could go to NFL

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Three of the best tight ends in the NFL are Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham -- while they are all football stars now, they each played college basketball. Now, a local athlete is trying to follow in their footsteps.

Despite a lack of overall success this season, the UW-Milwaukee Panthers were still working hard right up until they were eliminated from the Horizon League Tournament, Demetrius Harris was dunking with authority in practice with the hopes that a Cinderella run might be in the offing.

The month of March is the month if you are a college basketball player, but March could be a life-changing month for Demetrius Harris. That's when he gets a call from the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs -- expressing interest in seeing him play football.

"I really was thinking April Fools is coming so I was looking like -- it was crazy! I heard the message and I got the call and he told me he was going to call me back with more information and I'm waiting for the call and he actually called me back, so I'm like, this is unreal!" Harris said.

The NFL's interest in Harris as a tight end prospect is real, and it's not just from the Chiefs.

On Saturday, April 20th, several NFL teams had representatives in Milwaukee to work Harris out in the equivalent of a one-man combine. Harris measures six feet, five-and-a-half inches tall and can run the 40-yard dash in less than 4.6 seconds. He hasn't played a down of football in four years, but he was All-State in college and then UWM. These days, his hoops dreams collide with those of the gridiron variety.

"I have the same feeling as, it's just like the corner of the end zone. It's the red zone -- just lob it up. It's like a dunk and that's a good feeling too," Harris said.

Harris says during a recent visit to Kansas City's facility, he was excited to meet Chiefs players Alex Smith and Dwayne Bowe. In a matter of days, he will be on an NFL roster himself.

"I know I'm going to need one year to sit back and watch veteran guys. I wouldn't mind that role because I know I need it, because I haven't played in four years, so I wouldn't mind that role. After that, my second season, I expect to make some noise," Harris said.

The NFL Draft is set for Thursday, April 25th, Friday and Saturday. Harris could be chosen in the later rounds, or will have the chance to sign with a team as an undrafted free agent.