Petrino Likes Arkansas Receiver Harris

With the hiring of a new offensive coordinator, Illinois coaches have begun recruiting players to fit the new scheme. New offers have gone out as Coach Paul Petrino identifies players he wants in an Illini uniform. One such player is Arkansas wide receiver Spencer Harris.

Greenwood High School's Spencer Harris wasn't on the Illinois recruiting radar prior to the hiring of Paul Petrino as offensive coordinator last month. Harris now holds a scholarship offer and is being heavily recruited by the Illini.

"I was being recruited by Arkansas before Illinois came in with an offer," Harris explains. "I had been to a bunch of camps and had known Paul [Petrino]. Paul and I have a good relationship and he loves me.

"Paul wanted me bad at Arkansas. He wanted to coach me, and I wanted to play for him. He's an awesome coach. I was talking to him every week and then he ended up moving to Illinois. I wasn't really recruited by Illinois at all before that.

"I knew I was going to get a call from him. I sent my highlight film up and they loved it. Last Wednesday he called me up and told me Illinois was going to offer."

Illinois is the first BCS conference school to offer the 6'-3", 190 pound receiver, but he held previous offers from smaller schools, including Arkansas State, whose coaches visited Harris earlier this week.

"My two top schools are Arkansas State and Illinois. I've already been to ASU. And once I get up to see what Illinois is like, then I'll make my decision. I'm flying up on the 22nd to visit Illinois. I'll make my decision the week after the visit."

Though Arkansas State is the in-state school, Harris wants to play for the school that's best for him.

"I'm looking for the school that's the best fit. I don't' care if I'm 14 hours away from home or 5 minutes. I'll choose the school that's going to fit me best and where I can enjoy my five years of college. I'm an independent person anyways, and it won't bother me how far away I am."

Harris spent a lot of time trying to attract the attention of BCS schools.

"I always had a goal to play college football at a big Division 1 school, but I didn't know how I stacked up against other players. I went to all kinds of camps, including two at the University of Arkansas where I won the best receiver award both times. I realized then I could compete with the best players."

Harris helped his team to a 10-1 record and a berth in the state playoffs.

"It was a great season. We went 10-1. We lost in the second round. We had a great season and dominated our conference. We didn't come out and play like we should have in the playoffs, but we did have a great season overall.

"Our team had a lot of experience at the skill positions but had a lot of young lineman. I was the only senior receiver. We run the spread offense with four receivers."

"We usually dominate the conference. Before my sophomore year, my first year on varsity, we won state 3 times in a row. My sophomore year we won state and last year we lost in the state semifinals to the team that won state."

Harris is keeping busy in the off-season.

"I'm playing basketball right now. After practice, I go to the weight room and lift for an hour so I can maintain my weight and strength. In the spring, I'll work on my speed and fundamentals to get prepared for college.

"I run a 4.59 (forty yard dash) and want to get it down to a 4.4 or a 4.5 flat. I run great routes and catch the ball great so speed is what I want to work on."

Harris wants to major in business.

Illini Inquirer Top Stories