Damien Harris pic Patriots

Former Madison Southern and Alabama running back Damien Harris talks to New England Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears during a 3-day mini-camp this week. (New England Patriots Photo/David Silverman)

Former Madison Southern running back Damien Harris is officially a professional.

Harris, who played the past four seasons at the University of Alabama, signed a contract with the New England Patriots this week. Harris was drafted in the third round and the 87th overall pick in last month’s NFL Draft. Terms of the contract were undisclosed.

Harris rushed for 3,078 yards in the Crimson Tide backfield and rushed for 876 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He added 22 catches for 204 yards.

Harris participated in a three-day mini-camp that ended Thursday and received a share of repetitions in the absence of Sony Michel, who missed the three workout sessions for “undisclosed reasons” according to the team’s web site.

Harris, who will wear No. 53 next season, was impressive in the backfield.

“You can work on anything at this point,” Harris said. “That’s our objective — to get better at all phases of game. I know that’s my objective, to be the best player I can be. Whether that’s in the run game or the pass game, special teams, whatever I’m asked to do I want to come out here and do it at a high level.”

Harris is looking forward to playing alongside Michel, the former Georgia standout and New England’s featured running back.

“I never met Sony previously, I know I played against him (in college),” Harris said. “But once I got here, him and all the running backs kind of welcomed me with open arms and they’re doing everything they can to help me.”

Harris was somewhat star-struck as he took the ball in the backfield from New England quarterback Tom Brady.

“It’s special," Harris said to the New England Sports Network. "But, he’s my teammate now, so I get to do that every single day. And I’m fortunate to learn from a guy like that, a guy that’s been through a lot of things and had a lot of success in this program, so he’s a guy that I can lean on and learn from. And I know if I need something, I can depend on him.”

Harris joined former youth football teammate Jared Stidham, who also was drafted by the Patriots. The two players were on the same team — the 49ers — in a Richmond youth football league. Stidham later moved to Texas and played at Auburn.

““It’s been great,” Harris said. “Seeing where we started, playing Little League football together, playing against each other in the Iron Bowl and now both having the opportunity to play for the Patriots. Our story’s been pretty special. It’s been good getting with him. We get together, we study, we go over stuff, so it’s good to be back together.”

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