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April 11, 2012Listen: Coach Danny Hope after practice
Normondo Harris quit.
He thought fashion was his passion, maybe even more than football, but he couldn't handle the joking and nagging of his Purdue teammates.
So, last year, he said he dropped out of his apparel design and technology major.
"I wasn't taking it in the right way. I was getting made fun of a little bit," he said. "So I was like, 'Whatever.' I wasn't even that good at it."
But that decision just didn't feel right.
Everywhere Harris looked, he was inspired by what could be, how he could translate what he saw into a garment.
So he came back to the program last summer, staying on campus and diving full-in.
"I worked on nothing but that - and football, of course, a little bit - and now I've created a lot of buzz and everybody wants me to do something for them," he said. "So I'm going to stay in it."
Harris' Instagram account is loaded with fashion-related photos - jackets, shirts, dresses, floral prints, patterns, the spaces he works to create.
He ultimately wound up at the major because he'd wanted to be an architect since he was a kid. But Purdue didn't have architecture, he said. So he transitioned and found another way to build.
"It's just creating things," Harris said. "It's about the same principles as (architecture) except instead of a building, you have clothing. It's as necessary as a building.
"Everything is an inspiration to fashion. I think that's with anything you do, even with art. You can be inspired by anything."
Harris was able to participate in his first fashion show at Purdue last month, and he said several of his teammates came to support the sold-out show.
The teasing still comes sometimes, but, mostly, players and friends have accepted "that's just Mondo," he said with a smile.
Harris even tries to show his style during practice. He's taken to wearing different socks - sometimes with little "P" logos covering the black material, others with gold stripes and a "P" logo.
It'll be the only chance he gets to make a fashion statement in football - during games, players are required to wear the same socks, even at the same height, he said.
Still, it's a nice statement for now.
"I've had a lot of players who are very fashionable and thought they were trend-setters as far as fashion goes, but he may be the first fashion design major we've had," Coach Danny Hope said.
Harris said the ultimate goal is to be a "top designer" and create his own line. He watches the current reality shows that offer such rewards, but he's not 21, so he can't apply for a spot, he said.
But perhaps he'll get a chance to broaden his tastes and experience next year - he posted on Twitter that he's gotten the OK to study abroad in London next year over Maymester.
"It's different," friend and fullback Brandon Cottom said of Harris' career choice. "That was the first time I'd ever heard - I didn't even know we had a fashion major here. It struck me by surprise.
"But I've seen some of his stuff, and he's very good at it."
With the way the defensive front is disrupting the offense and with the speed in the back half of the defense, that unit has done a consistent job of creating turnovers this spring, Hope said.
"The offense has to do a better job of ball security. That's kind of been the story throughout the course of spring," he said. "Some of that's on the offense, but a lot of that has to do with the defense playing like they're playing now.
"A lot of good signs out there today and throughout the course of the spring."
The team entered spring with 15-20 injured players but half about a dozen now, Hope said.
Among the players who have gotten some reps in spring ball but likely won't participate in the game Saturday: Guard Peters Drey, tight end Gabe Holmes, fullback Brandon Cottom, tackle Justin Kitchens, defensive lineman Ryan Isaac and linebacker Mike Lee.
"We don't have to win the game Saturday. If you played someone else and you didn't win the game, is that going to create the right kind of buzz?" Hope said. "It's a great idea. But someone is going to be unhappy when it's all said and done."
Hope said there is so much focus on his own team, both in practice and in recruiting at this time of year, that preparing for an opponent wouldn't be the best use of time.
"Our plates are full right now," Hope said. "There's not any time left. So preparing for a game right now probably wouldn't be the first thing on my agenda, but it sure sounds like it'd be fun."
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