Kentucky running back Damien Harris quickly emerged as a headliner of the 2015 recruiting class, evolving into a can't-miss prospect for programs throughout the country as an underclassman. The 5'11", 205-pound Madison Southern High School junior has spent the past two years fielding offers from the biggest programs in college football.
Ohio State and Michigan entered the equation during his sophomore season. Interest from beyond Big Ten territory ensued before long.
Harris has dozens of options to consider, including Alabama, Notre Dame, Auburn and Florida. Offers from Florida State, Miami and Arkansas arrived in February.
He committed to Michigan last summer but that pact failed to survive the winter. Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke remains in pursuit of Harris following his January decommitment.
The 5-star prospect is rated America's No. 1 running back in 247Sports' composite rankings. Harris is considered Kentucky's premier player, so it's no surprise the in-state Wildcats aim to keep him close to home.
He rushed for 2,520 yards and 46 touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore. Harris erupted in 2013, gaining 2,621 yards and 42 scores on the ground.
We break down the game tape to take a closer look at a prospect primed for national stardom. Still more than 17 months shy of his first chance to carry the ball in college, Harris has the makings of a special talent.
|School||Madison Southern High School|
|Size||5'11", 205 lbs.|
|Rankings||No. 1 RB; No. 21 overall nationally; No. 1 player in Kentucky|
|Key Offers||Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, Miami, Arkansas, Florida State|
There's plenty to appreciate about the way Harris competes. He's invested in executing his role on every play, regardless of whether or not he's taking a handoff.
He attacks defenders at full throttle, contributing as a capable blocker and dangerous diversion out of the backfield. Of course, the spotlight really shines when Harris has the football.
The primary element of his rushing approach is power, and it stands out immediately. Harris maintains a low base and swiftly accelerates, gaining forward momentum in a hurry.
By the time he's advanced beyond the line of scrimmage, tacklers have a tough time halting his progress. Harris has a powerful lower body, which enables him to churn through defenders and rumble out of the fray.
He moves well laterally, bursting in and out of cuts with limited space to maneuver. However, Harris is certainly more of a north-south runner than a slasher.
From a physical standpoint, he appears prepared to take on an immediate workload in college. Harris' stamina and endurance will increase as his career progresses, setting the stage for him to become a true bell-cow back.
His vision is outstanding, guiding Harris through rushing lanes at every level of an opposing defense. The patience he exhibits while allowing blocks to develop downfield is an asset that's predominately instinctive and often sets consistently great running backs apart from the pack.
There are still some questions about whether Harris' breakaway ability will transition to the next level. He'll provide dependability and power but is unlikely to bust off of big gains down the sidelines on a routine basis.
Harris has strides to make as a receiver. Now more than ever, every-down backs are being asked to contribute in the passing game.
He's a menace in the open field, but could be smoother in his transition from receiver to runner upon securing the catch. It's an element of his game that will be crafted through countless repetitions on the practice field.
Harris looks the part of a featured college running back and has the statistics to back it up. He's maintained a heavy workload throughout his high school career and will take on a similar role early in college.
His recruitment could come down to a Big Ten battle between Ohio State and Michigan, but don't look past SEC contenders Florida and Auburn. Expect Kentucky to remain among his favorites throughout the process, as the program has enjoyed immense success recruiting in-state talent under head coach Mark Stoops.
Harris undoubtedly ranks among the most impressive offensive playmakers in the 2015 class. It would be a mild upset if he isn't receiving the bulk of his squad's carries by the end of his sophomore season.
Recruiting information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.