Madison Southern's Harris backs off commitment to Michigan; coach decries recruiting hype

mfields@herald-leader.comJanuary 21, 2014 

Madison Southern football star Damien Harris, one of the nation's top prospects in the Class of 2015, is no longer committed to Michigan, as previously announced.

Madison Southern Coach Jon Clark said Harris wants to make sure Michigan is the right place for him.

"It's still his top school, without a doubt," Clark said Tuesday afternoon. "He made a decision early, and just like we were worried about, he feels like maybe he didn't look at enough stuff.

"His thinking is, 'Michigan is still the school I want to go to, but I want to make sure. I don't want to get on campus and have regrets that I didn't look at more things.'"

The announcement created a stir on recruiting websites and social media on Tuesday. Clark said he had to turn off his cell phone because he was flooded by calls from media and coaches.

"It's been ridiculous," said Clark, who didn't like it that some media felt they had a right to know everything about Harris' decision, and that some fans were critical of Harris.

"People think they have a right to know every little thing that's going on all the time," Clark said. "People forget that he is a 16-year-old kid, and I had to tell them to back off and be respectful. If he wants to be private about stuff, we're going to be private about stuff whether they like it or not.

"And some people were kind of attacking Damien in a way I really wasn't OK with."

Harris, a 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back, rushed for 2,621 yards and 42 touchdowns last fall and was Gatorade's Player of the Year in Kentucky. He has run for 5,274 yards and 90 TDs in his career.

Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 1 running back and No. 5 overall prospect in the Class of 2015.

Clark said he and Harris have been talking about his college decision for a few weeks.

"The biggest thing is, his mom and me want him to think about things in a proper process, and make sure he's making a decision for the right reason, not on a whim."

Clark said he also has a message for college football fans and media:

"A kid will never make a decision to go somewhere because of fans or the media. But kids will make a decision not to go places because of that.

"People think they have a right to have access to these kids because they're on social media. But they don't. They're kids, not adults. And they don't have a right to have access to them."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service