Zach Harmon cleared to play; ready to enroll

Few Duke football recruits have had a similar journey to three star Ohio product Zach Harmon, who suffered a broken neck early in his senior season. Fast forward nearly nine months and Harmon is fully cleared and ready to enroll at Duke.

"I am fully clearly to play," Zach Harmon told TDD on Tuesday morning. "I am reporting to Duke on June 27th and I will be fully ready to go. I just got off the phone with Coach Cutcliffe."

Harmon, who committed to Duke over offers from Buffalo, Kentucky, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Marshall, Miami of Ohio, Toledo, and Western Kentucky, knew he wanted to be a Blue Devil early on, but saw his season cut short.

"The season was great until the end of the third game. I broke my C6 vertebrae in two different spots in my neck which ended my senior season. I did accomplish one goal; I was selected as a captain by my teammates. That was a goal of mine. I had surgery on my neck in October. They took my disk out and put in cadaver bone between my C6 and C7 vertebrae. The bone is starting to fuse together. I can't complain about how my high school career went. I'm very lucky to have played for Toledo Central Catholic."

Following the injury, however, Harmon admits he was extremely concerned about his future, and his place in Durham. After all, the Blue Devils were building something special, the class was filling up, and he had a serious injury. Cutcliffe, however, wasn't having any of it.

"I told him just now that I thank him from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me through this process. He told me that once I became a member of the Duke program, we became a family...that exemplifies Duke Football. I couldn't be more happy to have him as my coach."

Harmon was actually cleared to return to workouts in March, but was limited to anything that would exercise his neck as that would heal on its own. Still, he had the chance to work hard and prepare for a return to the game.

"I just hit the weights for two hours per day and would do hill sprints after that. I've added 60 pounds to my bench press, and I'm in the best shape of my life. I'm ready."

Harmon, who will wear #63 in Durham, says the past year has taught him a lot about the value of football and the value of relationships and family. It's also driven home the choice he made with Duke.

"It made me realize how lucky I am to be at Duke. A lot of schools would have abandoned me or wouldn't have taken a chance on me because of an injury like that. Coach Cut told me right away not to worry about that because we're a family. He has given me an opportunity of a life time, and stuck with me. I will play my heart out of him and for my team."

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