For most high school football players, the chance to visit an SEC school is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Central-Phenix City defensive back Mike Harris got the chance to visit two in back-to-back days last week.
Harris, a rising senior at Central, visited Tennessee on Friday then LSU on Saturday as part of what’s been a busy offseason for the three-star safety. Both visits gave Harris the chance to learn more about the teams’ coaching staffs and to also show the coaches what he has to offer.
Harris enjoyed his trip to Tennessee to start the weekend and said living in Knoxville would be a big change after growing up in Phenix City. He said he was particularly impressed by Tennessee defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley, whose track record of working with defensive backs is no secret.
“(Coach Ansley) was telling me about how he was at Alabama and how he coached most of the DBs that got out of there and went on to the NFL. It was him and coach Pruitt that coached them,” Harris said. “That really touched me.”
Harris went from Knoxville to Baton Rouge the next day to participate in a camp hosted by the Tigers. Harris said he liked being at LSU and said the highlight was getting to see how LSU safeties coach Bill Busch works with players.
Harris wasn’t done with SEC schools yet, either. He participated in a camp at Alabama one week later, which allowed him to be coached through drills by Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban.
Harris said LSU has been recruiting him the hardest lately as the Tigers try to separate themselves from the 15 other schools that have offered the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Harris. Harris admitted the recruiting process was strenuous at first, but some guidance from his mom has helped tremendously.
“I didn't really know how to handle it, but now that I know how to get it together (it's better),” Harris said. “It took a few talks with my mother (Monica Torbert). We got a chance to visit each of these colleges I liked.”
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.”
Harris said he doesn’t have a timetable for committing but added he’s looking for a school that can offer him a great education that will help him with life after football. Although getting to see some of the premier football programs up close is becoming more and more common for Harris, he’s remained humble and wants to show others they can be where he is someday.
“It feels really good. A lot of people where we come from don't have that type of opportunity,” Harris said. “For me to have that opportunity, I just run with it so I can show other people that you can do this. This is happening where you're staying. This is right here in your city. It can be achieved.”