Duck football player cited for driving 118 mph

Duck football player cited for driving 118 mph »Play Video
This photo made Nov. 6, 2010, shows Washington punter Kiel Rasp (94) chasing Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris (13) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

EUGENE, Ore. -  Police clocked a star University of Oregon football player driving 118 mph without a valid driver's license early Sunday morning on Interstate 5 south of Albany.

Cliff Harris, 20, was cited by Oregon State Police for driving suspended and going 118 mph in a 65 mph speed zone.

An off-duty trooper spotted the vehicle around 4:32 a.m. Sunday and obtained a radar reading of 118 mph.

The trooper overtook the speeding 2011 Nissan Altima and contacted Harris. A check with the State of Oregon indicated Harris was driving with a suspended operator's license.

A passenger with a valid license drove the rented vehicle from the scene.

>>> Police on lookout for high-speed drivers

Harris emerged as a star defensive and special teams player for the Ducks during their 2010 Pac-10 championship season. He set the UO single-season record for punts returned for touchdowns with four. He also returned one interception for a touchdown.

He is only one of four consensus All-American players in school history and the first punt returner to earn that distinction for the Ducks.

Football coach Chip Kelly issued a statement on Monday afternoon.

"We are obviously very disappointed in the lack of judgment exercised by Cliff and feel it's unacceptable," he said. "I've said from the beginning that it should be a privilege to play football at the University of Oregon. With that said, individuals must bear the responsibilities for their own behavior. Once we have finished collecting all the information in this situation, we will determine the appropriate action."

Harris stood out for his eccentric behavior and outlandish statements to the media. When the Ducks earned a trip to the BCS National Championship game, Harris said the Ducks were playing in “the Natty,” a phrase that stuck with many fans.

>>> Photo Gallery: Cliff Harris on the field for Oregon

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Raw Video: Cliff Harris interview with KVAL Sports after the 2010 Civil War game

Police on lookout for high-speed drivers

Harris was one of two high-speed drivers stopped by Oregon State Police last weekend.

On Saturday afternoon, trooper in south central Oregon cited Ji Wang, 21, of Forest Grove for doing 103 mph on Highway 138E about six miles west of Highway 97. 

The citation could have been an accident: The trooper had just scared off a herd of mule deer on the highway moments before Wang drove into the area.

Since 2006, state police have noted a drop in the number of drivers cited at 100 mph or faster following the enactment of tougher laws to help save lives. 

Senate Bill 568 took effect Jan. 1, 2006, specifying that driving a vehicle over 100 mph carries a mandatory minimum 30 - 90 day suspension in addition to a fine of $1,148. 

Between 2006 and 2009, drivers cited by OSP troopers at 100 mph or faster dropped nearly 45 percent. 

Court-ordered suspensions have also dropped in conjunction with fewer high speed drivers being stopped and cited.

Excessive speed continues to be a factor in half of all traffic fatalities - and is the only factor in about 30 percent. 

Crash severity increases sharply with speeds in excess of 60 mph, and probability of fatal injury increases significantly above 70 mph.

State police, Oregon transit officials and local law enforcement agencies encourage reporting dangerous drivers by calling 9-1-1.