Class of 2015 running back Damien Harris, a 5-star recruit and the No. 25 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings, decommitted from the Michigan Wolverines on Tuesday.
Per Sam Webb of Scout.com: "After a great deal of thought and consideration, Berea (KY) Madison Southern RB, Damien Harris has decided to reopen his commitment to better explore his options."
Harris committed to the Wolverines earlier this summer, roughly 20 months before he and his classmates would have to officially decide on their futures. It was a coup for Brady Hoke and Co. at the time, but after a poor 2013 season and the firing of offensive coordinator Al Borges, this move doesn't come as a giant surprise.
It does come as a minor one, though. Borges' replacement, former Alabama assistant Doug Nussmeier, visited with Harris on Jan. 16, ostensibly with the goal of securing his commitment. It was one of the first big recruiting assignments of Nussmeier's tenure.
While obviously a big step in the wrong direction, this isn't a fatal blow to Michigan's chances with Harris. He simply wants to explore other options. "Michigan is still very much #1 right now," said Harris' mother, according to Steve Lorenz of 247Sports. It's not like he's sour on the program.
But that could change in a heartbeat. Apparently, Michigan fans have not responded kindly to Harris in the short few hours since his decommitment, which has bothered the young running back. Per Tom VanHaaren of ESPN.com, Harris' high school coach said the following (and insisted it be tweeted to the masses):
"People need to back off of [Damien]. People are attacking him and the fans better ease up or they're going to push him away from Michigan."— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) January 21, 2014
Michigan will have its hands full trying to resell Harris on Michigan, especially if the team doesn't rebound from a down year in 2014. In-state Kentucky is still a potential landing spot for Harris, and Oklahoma offered him a scholarship on Jan. 13. A number of other schools could also emerge as players.
Where Will Harris Commit in 2015?
Harris was the top-ranked recruit in Michigan's 2015 class, but he wasn't the only one of good pedigree. Shaun Crawford and Tyree Kinnel are 4-star defensive backs, and 3-star offensive tackle Jon Runyan Jr. has the bloodline of his former Pro Bowl father, Jon Runyan Sr. Hoke still has a good head start on next season.
But with the struggles of freshman running back Derrick Green during his first year in Ann Arbor, the thought of landing Harris was a very nice security blanket.
If the Wolverines do, in fact, lose Harris to another school, Green's development becomes even more important to Michigan's offensive future.