No. 1 by three different rankings, five-star running back won’t announce publicly; insiders say he’s flying to Alabama, Oakland on Sunday
By Allen Payton
According to national news reports including by NBCSports, which showed up on Yahoo! News, Antioch High running back Najee Harris will not announce his college of choice, publicly but will just show up on campus.
Making national news as the nation’s number one high school football recruit, this year, Harris was in San Antonio, Texas at the second day of training, Tuesday for Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He was being watched by media from across the country, but wouldn’t give any interviews. He did however speak with 247Sports on Monday and said, although he’s committed to the University of Alabama, Harris is still “undecided” and considering the University of Michigan, as well as U.C. Berkeley.
The website reported that Antioch High Varsity Football Coach John Lucido said Harris will simply fly to his college of choice after the game to enroll in school early, without notifying the media. Only his “circle of trust” will know.
Both Alabama head coach Nick Saban and former offensive coach Lane Kiffin visited Harris in Antioch, this past year, as well as Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, the former coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
According to 247Sports Harris is “ranked by the industry-generated 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 1 prospect,” and that “the five-star Harris has been a verbal to Alabama since April of 2015, but Jim Harbaugh and Michigan have created doubt about the future for the ballyhooed recruit who took his official to Ann Arbor in mid-December and has been there a few times.” (Harris is also ranked the nation’s No. 1 high school football recruit by Scout and Rivals).
The article further stated that “Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa has told BamaOnLine insider Hank South this week that he is planning to room with Harris in Tuscaloosa. Nick Saban and Alabama don’t generally lose recruits they want like Harris, but Harbaugh and Michigan have done all they can to make the West Coast talent think otherwise.”
According to MLive.com, “Harbaugh hosted a satellite camp at Antioch in June and even announced the homecoming queen while watching Harris play in October. Harris visited Michigan in August for the BBQ at the Big House annual recruiting event and took an official visit to Ann Arbor in December.”
According to AL.com, when Harris was “asked if he’d just duck interviews after the game and head to the airport and to his school of choice, he said that’s what he plans on doing. So, there will be no announcement.”
However, according to 247Sports, on Wednesday “Alabama quarterback commit Tua Tagovailoa told 247Sports that he would be on the same flight as…Najee Harris to Birmingham at the completion of the Army Bowl. That news seemed to indicate Harris’ intention to enroll at Alabama in January, effectively ending his recruitment.”
The article further states Tagovailoa has also said this week that Harris is also his scheduled roommate in Tuscaloosa. Tracked down for confirmation in the hallways of the Grand Hyatt hotel, Harris playfully said, “What flight? I don’t even know my flight.”
Yet, on Thursday, 247Sports reported they have “since learned from two sources that Harris’ departing flight from San Antonio actually has Oakland — his hometown (airport) — as its final destination.”
Then, a further report by 247Sports Thursday morning, has Harris heading to Alabma. “As part of the invitation to play in the Army Bowl, travel is paid for, with a departing flight from San Antonio to anywhere of the player’s choice. Those flights can be changed — and Thursday afternoon, after practice No. 3, Harris made use of the flexible nature of the Army Bowl’s travel capabilities. It is unclear, but assumed, that Harris’ travel request will be accommodated.
A non-Bama bound player on the West squad told 247Sports on Thursday he had heard Harris would stick with his Alabama commitment, too. Classes start Jan. 11 at Alabama.”
So the mystery continues and we’ll have to just wait until after we watch Harris play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this Saturday, Jan. 7th at 10:00 AM on NBC. For more information about the game visit www.usarmyallamericanbowl.com. To learn more about Najee Harris and his high school career playing for the Antioch Panthers, visit his Wikipedia page, his page on MaxPreps, or search his name on www.AntiochHerald.com.