As the 2016 recruiting cycle inches to a close, the Arkansas coaching staff is looking to fill out its class but also to hold onto committed prospects all the way through singing day. The Razorbacks will be forced to pay special attention to three-star inside linebacker De’jon Harris as the Marrero, Louisiana native will take two official visits next month.
“I’ve got the Bama official on January 13th and the Arkansas one is the 22nd,” Harris told Today’s U.
Ranked as the No. 16 inside linebacker by 247Sports.com, Harris holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, Memphis, Southern Mississippi, Troy, Tulane, Oregon and Western Kentucky.
Harris, however, has his focus squarely on Arkansas and Alabama. The three-star prospect has never visited the Crimson Tide before, so this official visit will be very telling in terms of his future as a Razorbacks commit.
“I have never went up there,” Harris said of Alabama. “I want to meet the coaching staff. They said they rebuilt their facilities, so I want to see that. Also probably the academics up there.”
With those two visits coming shortly before National Signing Day, Harris detailed his plan if the Alabama visit causes him to rethink his decision.
“If I feel like Alabama might have a shot, then after my Arkansas official, I would recommit,” Harris said. “I have that last weekend and a couple days before signing day, but I don’t know. I would have to wait and see until I get up there.”
Throughout the process, most schools have shown interest in Harris for his defensive ability, but the 6′, 238-pound athlete is a versatile prospect that played offense as well for John Ehret High. After the starting quarterback went down, Harris tried his hand as the signal caller in addition to his running back duties.
“I’ve been recruited at linebacker, but my highlight tape is on mostly offense,” Harris said. “I bring a lot of size, speed and I’m a hard-hitting, athletic linebacker. Most schools like me at linebacker, but I’ve talked to some schools about running back.
Mostly linebacker, though. At first when everyone was recruiting me, they were talking about inside [linebacker]. Some schools said I could possibly move to the outside.”
Arkansas landed the versatile recruit back in May, and with Harris in the fold Arkansas holds the No. 30 recruiting class in the country. Harris says after he committed, his recruitment stayed more or less the same with a consistent group of schools showing interest.
“It still was the same, basically the same schools I talked to before I committed,” Harris said. “Some schools came, but some of them left. Some schools said they didn’t offer me because the guys they really want, I would probably run them away by committing. It’s been basically the same.”
As for the reasoning behind his commitment, Harris cited an early visit to campus and the relationship he has formed with members of the coaching staff as influential factors in his decision.
“I went up there just for the spring game, but I developed a good relationship with coach Mike Smith and coach [Vernon] Hargreaves,” Harris said. “I know with the depth chart that I can go in and play early.
“I felt very comfortable up there. I like what I saw up there. They are rebuilding the program and I thought I could come in there and start recruiting other players.”
Whoever lands Harris’ signature will acquire a dynamic playmaker that recorded 80 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on defense. For his offensive numbers, Harris notched 1,336 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground with four more passing touchdowns in his spot-duty at quarterback.