Luck of the Irish? Hawkeyes Catch a Gift

The calendar clearly states that Christmas comes in December, not July. Iowa's top cornerback target from this past summer, Brandon Harrison, made a verbal commitment to Notre Dame this past summer. Fast forward to the present month, the month of giving and receiving gifts. Notre Dame fired its head coach, Ty Willingham, and that has opened the door for Iowa, as Harrison will be traveling to Iowa City this weekend for an official visit. And if all goes well, he might just be a Hawkeye.

You cannot argue with the success shown on the field by Antwan Allen and Jovon Johnson over the past three seasons at Iowa. Yet the one position where Kirk Ferentz has yet to land a marquee or ‘blue chip' player, it has been cornerback.

Allen chose Iowa over Vanderbilt and the Hawks had to wrestle Johnson away from Kent State. Those programs are not exactly the Valhalla of the college football world.

Coaches never publicly wish ill on one another, but Coach Ferentz and his staff took the news of Notre Dame Head Coach Tyrone Willingham's departure from Notre Dame and ran with it in placing a phone call to Harrison, who shows as much, if not more ability and potential on film than any cornerback prospect to step foot on campus in recent memory.

"Coach (Eric) Johnson called me after the news of Coach Willingham being fired was released," said Harrison. "He told me he wanted to bring me in for a visit, and that I've been the top cornerback prospect on their board the whole time. They are graduating two cornerbacks after next year, and said I could come in and compete for the starting nickel spot right away."

Harrison also admits part of his attraction to the Hawkeyes is how sees himself in their defense.

"Guys on their defense are big hitters, and that is what I do; make the big hits," added the four star cornerback. "I like to get after it, and that is exactly how they coach their defense to play. Iowa's defense is tight, and one of the best in the country."

Harrison was originally scheduled to make an official visit to Notre Dame this weekend before making changes to his plans. He planned to drive to South Bend, Indiana, but with his visit to Iowa City, he will experience two "firsts".

"This is my first time flying on a plane, and I'm a little bit scared. I know Iowa is going to be worth it, though. Some people like to say it's nothing but cornfields, but everyone tells me otherwise. Our quarterback last year, Anthony Turner, took a visit out there, and told me Iowa is sweet. He said they have awesome facilities so I'm excited to get out and see them," Harrison said.

Harrison also received calls from Florida, Tennessee, and Purdue this week. He indicated that Michigan and Ohio State both contacted his coach.

As it is with any Ohio prospect the Hawkeyes pursue, fans immediately raise the question if an Ohio State offer were to come through, would the prospect jump on it?

"I didn't really want to hear about Ohio State from my coach because I want to play against Ohio State. It won't matter if they offer me or not." Harrison said.

Harrison was able to intercept for passes this past fall, but due to his reputation as a playmaker, he did not see many balls thrown his way.

"Well, in Ohio, we play man-to-man defense, not zone, which you see everywhere else. No one would ever throw my way so it was a hard earned four interceptions," Harrison said.

Despite any personal accomplishments, Harrison said he was more disappointed in the fact his team bowed out in the regional semi-finals.

Though the Irish no longer have Willingham heading the program, Harrison says he will not totally close the door on Notre Dame.

"If their new coach is the same type of guy as Coach Willingham then I will listen to Notre Dame, and still consider attending the school. Right now, it's up in the air on what I'm going to do, though," stated Harrison.

Even if he were still committed to Notre Dame, he admits he likely would still visit Iowa.

"I knew I wanted to visit a few other schools, and Iowa is going to the Capital One Bowl this year," continued Harrison. "I know I will be watching it."

He could be a Hawkeye by that time, even perhaps by the end of this weekend.

"If I like what I see at Iowa, I will not be afraid to give a commitment. That is what happened at Notre Dame in that I knew that is where I wanted to be. I still feel I owe it to myself to check a couple other schools out, but if I'm comfortable with Iowa, I'll let their coaches know it," Harrison said.

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