Kids, Ace is busy piling all the good news from the BBQ into a post so I take the baton to profile Michigan's second five-star 2015 commitment in three days. HIGH FIVE
Sam Webb was dropping hints that someone would drop in the aftermath of the George Campbell commitment, and lo: it has transpired. 2015 KY RB Damien Harris has pulled the trigger.
Informative update coming, but for now know that ESPN has Harris the #20 player in the country for his year and 247 has him 91st; he had offers from OSU, Notre Dame, and Florida. High five.
|NR WR||NR WR||5*, #3 RB
|4*, #10 RB
|5*, #4 RB,
As you recently learned when #1 2015 WR George Campbell committed to Michigan, only ESPN and 247 have preliminary 2015 rankings out yet. Harris features in both. He's solidly a five-star at ESPN and just inside the 247 top 100, and given the scouting from Scout and Rivals I'd bet they're both closer to ESPN's rating than 247's. Rivals's article on the commit states he "is being considered for five-star status and might be the top overall running back in the country."
Also, George Campbell. And Damien Harris.
Damien Harris is such a combination of size and speed even at a young age that he was the best running back at the Army Combine in January… the Army Combine that is for juniors. There multiple attendees timed him in the low 4.4 range, which may be hand-timed nonsense but is hand-timed nonsense then compared to the same thing from guys like 2014 five-star Joe Mixon.
His coach has told everyone who asks that Damien Harris might be a mutant.
"He really has this great combination of size and speed," Clark said. "He's really powerful, but he's also the fastest young man I've ever seen. He's got Olympic type speed with his power, which makes him unique. He's got really good vision on the football field, which is one of the things that comes natural to him. And he's a 'yes sir, no sir' type of kid with a 3.0 (grade point average)."
Oh. Is there any other way in which Damien Harris might be a mutant?
"I was at Auburn in '06 and at Syracuse in '07, so I've been around major college football players. Size wise, I've never seen a kid built like this at his age. He's every bit of 5'11, 195 right now and he looks like he would be an SEC freshman-sophomore running back already. He's absolutely jacked. Mom and dad are both tall. Mom's over 6'0. I think he'll probably end up being over 6'0 and he can carry 225-230-lbs on his frame easily."
Surely we are out of ways—
"He is a freak in the weight room," Clark says. "…He's power cleaning around 250-lbs already, benching around 250 already and squatting 375-400-lbs and he's barely lifted and we full squat."
--that Damien Harris might be—
"At the end of the day, it's just his speed, with his size, is very unique - and that's not just for his age. If he were to be a junior or a senior this year, his speed with his size is still unique. With him being as young as he is, it just kind of enhances that. 'What might be possible here?' He's definitely not going to get smaller and slower, it's no question."
People other than his coach are in agreement. Allen Trieu caught him at Michigan's camp and called him a "phenom":
He's very well built, looking like a college ready kid now. He's explosive and caught the ball very well.
Josh Helmholdt mentions he has the size of a college back already, a "potent combination of power and speed" and like wow:
He does as good a job of sticking his foot in the ground and making sharp cuts as any back we have seen in the upper classes, and he can go from a dead stop to top speed in an instant. Maybe Harris' best asset, though, is his balance. He destroys arm tackles and it regularly takes 2-3 defenders to bring him down.
ESPN's evaluation… disagrees entirely with everyone including itself!
STRENGTHS: Strong, balanced runner with quick feet and well-rounded skill-set. Flashes good top-end speed and upper and lower body strength. Displays good vision finding the hole and the ability to get through tight creases for big gainers. Possesses the lateral stretch ability and edge speed to get outside and move the chains. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Not overly powerful at this stage. Lacks the ability to consistently break tackles and produce strong yards after contact. Elusiveness and suddenness are not elite. We question his current level of competition but he does dominate it. ... BOTTOM LINE: Harris is an explosive player with natural feet and vision. Has good size and will only get stronger as a downhill runner with time. Big-play skill set that should make him a coveted prospect.
I don't understand you sometimes, ESPN.
Harris grew up idolizing one Mike Hart, so thanks for that in addition to all your other Mike Hart things, Mike Hart:
“I think the best part about that was the fact that growing up I idolized Mike Hart,” Harris said. “He means the world to me. For me to be there at that camp and getting 1-on-1 instruction from him was the best part of the whole experience.”
Also, the pattern.
"I've been doing this a long time - I coached in college for ten years," said Clark. "Damien's got all the intangibles that help a young man get to that point. He's a good person, he makes good decisions, he's a good kid, he's got good work ethic, and he's a good student, as well. So all of those things kind of point that he's in the right direction, no question."
He has a 3.8 GPA, and is already a film rat:
“Student of the game,” Clark said. “Watches hours of film a week. Most sophomore running backs I’ve been around don’t really know blocking assignments and plays. He’s a student of the game like you want your quarterback to be, and he knows why you run certain plays against certain fronts. His football IQ is drastically improving.”
At this early stage Harris had offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Florida amongst others. Kentucky, Tennessee, Syracuse, and other schools had offered him after his freshman year.
Berea is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere that does not come across this kind of talent often.
Had 742 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 carries as a freshman in six games. A concussion shortened his season. Last year he put up 1,778 yards on 144 carries and scored 35 touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
This one is a bit fake:
According to his coach Jon Clark, Harris clocked a 4.36 40-yard dash at 5-foot-11, 205-pounds. Harris was named the top underclassmen performer by 247Sports at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas back in January.
Who do you think you are, George Campbell who is committed to Michigan? On the other hand:
Within the group the most impressive time of the morning may be from the youngest. From Richmond (KY) Madison Southern High, running back Damien Harris is a 2015 player who is already on several teams’ watch list. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound Harris ran a 4.43, which was the fastest time clocked by FOX Sports NEXT.
No Change at The Top
Madison Southern (Ky.) sophomore running back Damien Harris was one of the top overall performers at the combine. He had one of the fastest forty times by our watches (4.41/4.38) and caught the ball well in 1-1s. He also had a 4.2 shuttle and a 32-inch vertical jump after measuring at just under 5’10, and 197-lbs.
One fake? For a 4.36 40 from a sophomore running back? George Campbell?
He also has a hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
By the time Harris arrives on campus, Derrick Green will be entering his junior year; DeVeon Smith will likely be a redshirt sophomore. Green may be on track to be three-and-out, though, so Michigan will likely blood one of their two 2015 running backs in preparation for a battle with Smith the year after.
Also… uh… I think I can legitimately say this. Mike Hart, but fast.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
How about an upshot for the class before his? Michigan just dropped NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman…
Two schools in Hilliman's previous top six schools have been removed from the picture: Michigan and Alabama. The Wolverines have informed Hilliman that they are no longer recruiting the running back position while the Crimson Tide, although interested, didn't seem, to him, quite interested enough.
…and apparently told him that Michigan would skip a back in this class. Harris probably had something to do with that, and unless Leonard Fournette decides Ann Arbor is the bees' knees, Michigan will go without this year. Which is fine.
The upshot for the rest of Harris's class is that there's probably one more tailback spot available and Cass Tech RB Mikey Weber is the heavy favorite to occupy it. Oh, and also WOOOOOOOOOO
“I’ve never seen anyone dominate a game like that,” Madison Southern Coach Jon Clark said. He’s been coaching for a decade. “He played out of his mind. The game’s first five offensive plays he had three touchdowns. Two ended up getting called back because of penalties.”