On the day before Christmas, Alabama head coach Nick Saban decided to go all Grinch as far as Razorback fans are concerned.
Marrero, La., John Ehret star and Razorback linebacker commit De’Jon Harris (6-1, 230) – one of Arkansas’ 16 commits in the 2016 class - was offered a scholarship by Saban and the Crimson Tide on Thursday.
Harris, who committed to Arkansas back on May 21 over Oregon and others, believes the offer was a reward for the spectacular season he had on both sides of the ball.
“I feel very blessed about the offer and it goes to show that all the hard work I put in this year when I had an outstanding year,” Harris said. “That’s how I am looking at this.”
He plans to take an official visit to Alabama on Jan. 15-17 and then Arkansas on Jan. 22-24.
“I told the Alabama coaches that I would take a visit there, but I’m still committed to Arkansas and will be taking my visit there also,” Harris said. “Arkansas’ coaches have been very good to me and wanted me from the start. I haven’t really thought about changing my mind, but I will take the visit.”
Harris had 80 tackles this season with 13 stops for lost yardage, 4 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
He also played a variety of positions on offense, ending up as the starting quarterback and rushing for 1,319 yards and 15 touchdowns, throwing for 395 yards and three scores and also catching 11 passes for 374 yard and four more touchdowns.
That helped lead John Ehret to the Class 5A state title game for the first time in 30 years before falling to Zachary.
“Alabama had been through here a couple of times with (running back) Coach (Burton) Burns, who is my recruiting coach,” Harris said. “They had told me they just wanted to see more tape of me this season and had to get the approval from Coach Saban.
“He liked what he saw and they called (John Ehret head) Coach (Corey) Lambert and he told me to call them and they let me know I had an offer.”
Arkansas sees Harris as a linebacker while Alabama views him as an athlete.
“Alabama said that I could end up playing on either side of the ball,” Harris said.
John Ehret’s run to the state championship game kept Harris from taking his scheduled official visit on a couple of times during the season.
But he is happy that he will get the opportunity to make it his last visit.
“It’s turned out to be a good thing,” Harris said. “I know a lot about Arkansas, but this time I will get to see it all and it is the last thing I will have on my mind.”
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Alabama also offered Metrarie, La., Archbishop Rummel cornerback Kristian Fulton on Thursday.
He has a planned visit to Arkansas in January.
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Several Arkansas commits were reaching out to Harris to encourage him to stay a Razorback pledge.
One of those was Arkansas safety commit Deon Edwards of Clermont, Fla., Lake Minneloa, who was was named the Leesburg Daily Commercial’s All-Area Defensive Player of the Year on Wednesday.
The award is voted on by area head coaches.
He had 72 tackles, 8 for lost yardage, two interceptions and three passes broken up in a season where he was rarely tested by opposing quarterbacks.
Edwards is excited about being a Razorback.
“It’s certainly a big-time program, and they’re getting better,” Edward told the Daily Commerical. “(Arkansas coach Brett Bielema) is building a quality program, and I’m looking forward to becoming a Razorback. It’s going to be tough, but I like to be challenged, and there aren’t many challenges bigger than playing the SEC.”
Lake Minneola head coach Walter Banks believes Arkansas is getting a great one.
“Deon is a kid I have seen mature in the classroom and on the football field for the last 11 months,” Banks said. “I’ve been fortunate to coach some really special student athletes in my career — Jeff Demps, Roberto Aguayo and Jonotthan Harrison — and Deon ranks right up there with them. He’s been a great leader and is passionate about the game of football.
“I think he will be really special at the next level.”
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Bielema and Arkansas offensive coordinator Dan Enos were in the office early on Thursday.