Trieu Details Impact of Damien Harris Commit

Michigan picked up a big commitment this week from 2015 Madison (Ky.) Southern running back Damien Harris. One of the first to lay eyes on Harris was FOXSportsNEXT Midwest Recruiting Manager Allen Trieu who reflects on his initial evaluations and details what the Wolverines can expect from Harris.

Deciding to verbally commit to Michigan before taking one snap as a junior at Madison (Ky.) Southern high school, 2015 running back Damien Harris will add elite playmaking ability to the running back depth chart when he arrives in Ann Arbor two years from now.

On the radar since his freshman season, FOXSportsNEXT Midwest Recruiting Manager Allen Trieu first laid eyes on Harris the winter following his first tour of duty as a varsity tailback, recalling a young tailback that wowed with his size and explosion.

"He was at the Best of the Midwest Combine two winters ago," Trieu said, "and he was already pretty physically put together, and ran a pretty good 40 there, and then when you find out that kid is only a freshman you're like, wow. I was able to go back and pull up the film from his freshman year and after the first three plays on the film, I basically turned it off and said I know this guy is a big time guy -- a national guy. And I don't get too many guys like that, to be honest.

"There's not a ton of guys that I turn on the film and right away I know that this guy is going to be right up there with the best in the country but, for him to be that way at an early age, I knew that there was something special there."

Not exactly a well kept secret among college football coaches by the time the summer of 2012 rolled around, Harris, along with his mother and football coach Jon Clark, made his way up to Ann Arbor to participate in the Michigan football camp. Working in the running back group coached by none other than Michigan legend Mike Hart, a former tailback for the Wolverines and current running back coach at Eastern Michigan University, Harris again impressed, this time in front of Hart, who he grew up idolizing, as well as Fred Jackson, Al Borges and Brady Hoke. Harris earned a scholarship offer from Michigan following his performance at camp.

"I think a lot of that had to do with the film going into camp and then seeing him in person just reconfirmed what the film showed which is, you saw a kid that probably showed up 10-pounds of muscle heavier than what he was on the film, again was very explosive," Trieu said. "And he was right there speed wise with anyone there at the camp.

"And then the thing that you don't really see on film that you do get to see in the camp setting is that the kid is a really good receiver and I think that's been evident both at the Michigan camp and some of the other camps he's been to."

Already a cut 5-foot-10, 200-pounds, Harris is fresh off piling up 1,911 yards rushing as a sophomore, including 37 touchdowns, and could be on track to eclipse the 2,000 yard mark this fall. Despite the gaudy numbers and bright future, no one is perfect, and as Trieu points out, Harris still has plenty of room for improvement, not just in his final two seasons of high school ball, but also once he finally, officially, puts on the winged helmet for the first time.

"I think his biggest challenge when he gets to Ann Arbor will be to adjust to the size and the speed of the college level," Trieu said. "Every kid who comes in from high school needs to do that but for him, playing against the competition that he does now, it's going to be even more of an adjustment for him. So he's just going to have to be ready for that.

"I think when you watch him on film sometimes there's plays where he's reversing field and reversing field again and running 10 yards into the backfield and then breaking out and running for a touchdown. He's going to get to a point where he can't do that so he's going to have to learn to be patient, learn to take what's there and try not to hit the home run all the time. As far as what he needs to do, a lot of kids need to get bigger, faster, stronger."

Joining forces early in Michigan's 2015 class with Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide receiver George Campbell, widely thought to be the top pass catcher in the country, along with offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. and kicker Andrew David, Harris will add more depth to an already strong running back spot for the Wolverines, set to enter his freshman season behind power runners Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith who will be entering their junior seasons. Harris will also bring a skill that could get him on the field early if he can adjust to college life quickly.

"I think you're bringing in a guy who can definitely hit the home run," Trieu said. "He's got breakaway speed when he gets into the open field. You're getting a guy who's only going to get stronger. You're getting a kid who works very hard and you're getting a great kid too, as far as just the intangibles that he brings to the table. But I think you're getting a dynamic kid who's going to be a threat to take it to the end zone anytime he touches the football."


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