Perception and reality often have a contentious relationship. 6-1 180-lb. Anthony Gildon has the secondary’s best vertical leap at 39.5. 5-11, 165-lb. Cliff Harris is the third fastest of John Neal’s defensive backs at 4.79, a half step faster than linebacker Derrick Malone’s 4.86.
Yet if you asked the average Duck fan, they’d readily say that Harris is a vastly better athlete than either Gildon or Malone. Harris does have marvelous skills, but he wouldn’t win a “Cyclone Toughness” drill with either one of them.
Some guys have the physical ability to jump over a ping pong table or tip over a car, but it takes more than that to win football games. You have the football smarts to be in the right place at the right time, the will to deliver and accept physical discomfort, and the wisdom to know when to slow down. We’re all works in progress. It will be interesting to see what Gildon, Malone and Harris make of their seasons. The Ducks need all three to fight the right blend of toughness, speed and discipline in 2011.