Central-Phenix City safety Mike Harris announced his top seven schools on Monday. The rising senior listed Alabama, Arkansas, UCF, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee as his finalists.
The 5-foot-11, 163-pound Harris is considered a three-star safety according to 247Sports’ composite ranking. Per the same system, Harris is rated as the 41st-best recruit in Alabama and the 91st-best cornerback in the Class of 2020.
For Harris, relationships helped him separate his top schools from the rest of the pack.
“They showed me a lot of attention,” Harris said. “A lot of the schools, I really don't talk to them like this. These were the main schools I've talked to and got a chance to get a connection with.”
Harris said Alabama just has a certain feeling, and growing up in the state has taught him what being part of the Crimson Tide would mean. One of Arkansas’ big draws is former Central running back A’Montae Spivey, who has constantly been recruiting Harris to join him in Fayetteville.
Harris also pointed out connections at LSU, which includes former Central quarterback Peter Parrish and Phenix City native/Tigers assistant Tommie Robinson.
“It's more of like a home,” Harris said of LSU. “The relationships there, they're really going to stand out there. I've got a good connection with the coaches out there. I've been out there numerous times. That played a big part.”
Harris said he hasn’t talked to Ole Miss a lot but wanted to include them among his top schools. He added he’s got a good connection with the coaching staff at UCF, and the coaches at Mississippi State are constantly giving him attention.
When it comes to Tennessee, Harris pointed to defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley as a coach he trusts and can talk to about anything.
Harris played an important role in a Central defense that few Red Devils fans will ever forget. Harris recorded 48 total tackles with seven pass-break ups for a defense that allowed 7.7 points per game and posted six shutouts.
Harris ended his junior season with four solo tackles in Central’s Class 7A state championship victory over Thompson.
“Mike, number one, is very athletic,” Central head coach Jamey DuBose said. “He's probably our fastest kid on the football team. He runs very well, and he's got length. That's one of the things these larger schools — and any school — likes. They like height, they like length and they like speed. From there, you've got to be able to have the highlights. You've got to be able to show that you can hit, have contact and make plays. Mike's been able to do that.”
Although Harris just announced his top schools, he said he’s already decided where he’s going. He’s just not sure when he’ll announce it.
Harris said he silently committed to a school “a couple of days ago” but won’t announce it until his mother, Monica Torbert, is ready. In regards to his mystery team, Harris said the coaches’ honesty and openness put them over the top.
“It was life after football. That played a big part,” Harris said. “The coaches I talked to, they told me everything about how it was going to go and how it was going to work from day one. It wasn't nothing they were going to tell me to try and make me come to their school – it was stuff they were telling me to be 100 with me. They were being straight up.
“They were telling me, 'You could start here. You could do this and do this if you do this.' They were telling me what they can help me improve myself.”