High School Football

Friday's the day: Football standout Damien Harris to pick Kentucky or Alabama

Damien Harris (34) took the hand off from Deondre Francois (3) at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Football game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fl on January 2, 2015.  Photo by Mark Mahan
Damien Harris (34) took the hand off from Deondre Francois (3) at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Football game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fl on January 2, 2015. Photo by Mark Mahan Herald-Leader

Up until Thursday morning, Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell was predicting that five-star running back Damien Harris would stay close to home and commit to the University of Kentucky.

That's no longer the case.

"I thought close to home and family would win out, but I think he has the blessing to head off to Bama and win titles, and it's too tempting a career move to pass up," Farrell told the Herald-Leader.

Harris will reveal his college decision at a ceremony at Madison Southern High School at about 1:15 p.m. Friday. Rivals.com ranks Harris as the No. 1 running back in the class of 2015.

Even when he was predicting UK, Farrell acknowledged that the buzz over the weekend at the Under Armour All-American Game was pro-Alabama. Harris ran for 110 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries, and Rivals named him the No. 1 offensive player at the national showcase.

Harris mingled with several Alabama commitments at that game, including close friend and future Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Barnett. There were no UK commitments there.

Farrell noted that Alabama's coaches were confident coming out of that weekend. "And betting against Alabama is always stupid," he added.

Harris originally committed to Michigan in July 2013 but backed out of the pledge following the departure of Wolverines offensive coordinator Al Borges at the end of that season.

He reopened his recruitment, settled on a top five of Alabama, UK, Ohio State, Florida and Texas A&M, and then recently cut the Gators and Aggies from contention.

Harris is still listing Ohio State, but the Buckeyes are not considered a legitimate landing spot.

The dogged recruiting job of Mark Stoops and his coaching staff — and, maybe more importantly, the proximity to his home in Madison County — are the main reasons that he might pick the Wildcats.

Farrell noted that Harris attended all but one of UK's home games last fall and was on campus for several other football-related events.

The national analyst said going to Kentucky would afford Harris the opportunity to not only play early but make an immediate impact. Alabama has sent several running backs to the pros in recent years, but the program also has several talented backs returning next season that would make it tough for Harris to crack the depth chart in 2015.

"At Alabama, I don't know if T.J. Yeldon's coming back or not. But Derrick Henry is," Farrell said. "Kenyan Drake is there. You go to Alabama, you wait your turn, you can still end up like Trent Richardson or Mark Ingram or Eddie Lacy — make a lot of money in the NFL and have a great college career. But he wouldn't be an impact from day one down there."

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