Michigan Still #1 with Damien Harris

Michigan lost its grip on its top remaining commitment in the 2015 class this week, but it maintained its status as the team to beat for Damien Harris. According to his mother many of the ingredients for his initial commitment are still there, but it's now necessary to add a few new ones to regain it.

A mother’s love is, well… a mother’s love.  It’s a love that when aimed at a son is much like the connection a dad with his daughter.  That special bond makes it especially tough to let go at times, but that’s exactly what Lynn Harris did last weekend when her son Damien Harris opted to reopen his recruitment.  The mother of the now former Michigan commitment got on board with her son’s decision even though it wasn’t the route she wanted him to go.

“My heart was hurt when he decided to decommit and I had to talk to Brady,” Ms. Harris lamented.  “I had decided ‘I'm not going to say anything (publicly) for a while and just try to get my mind together.’”

Her realization was simple even if arriving at it was not… she had to let her son find his own way.  Her only caveat is that his eventual path be chosen for the right reasons.  If he does that, in her mind, he will wind up right back where he started.

“The reason he came to this decision is he felt like when he committed, at the time, we felt like it was the right decision even though it was early,” she explained.  “Months later he has been thinking and thinking, ‘I didn’t really go and look at other places probably like I should have.  I didn’t consider other places like I should have.’   Even though Michigan is #1, and that hasn’t changed, he just wants to make sure he doesn’t have any regrets when he gets ready to enroll.  He just wants to make sure that he didn’t leave any stone unturned and wants to make sure he didn’t miss out on anything, even though he knows Michigan is still his #1.  That’s all.  He is just making sure that if he was to visit other places, he wasn’t going to regret not taking the full experience.”

Now her focus is on shielding her offspring from the inevitable backlash that is increasingly visible in the social media age.  In a medium where there’s little delay between stream of consciousness and the keyboard, fans can express their disapproval as tersely and as frequently as they’d like.  That’s an experience that Damien had already begun having before his decommitment became official.  Now that it’s a reality, mom’s first line of defense is to appeal to the more reasonable contingent of his fanbase and explain things from her perspective.

“Looking back on it, he did kind of make his decision early,” stated Ms. Harris.  “He was just getting ready to go into his junior year of high school.  He’s 16.   The very first time we went to Michigan in June for that camp right before his sophomore season, we got the instant home feeling.  It was instant! The connection was there.  We loved it!  We loved the atmosphere.  We loved the staff.  It was just an amazing experience.  Me personally, I don’t think we are going to get that anywhere else, but we have to make sure that he gets the full experience.  I want him to be able to look back on the experience and say, ‘yeah, I did it right. I went through it with a fine-toothed comb and I made the right decision at the end of the day.’  I don’t want him to look back at it and be like, ‘Dang, I wish I had gone here, I wish had gone there, or I wish I had visited just to see what it was like.’”

It should come as little surprise that Damien’s renewed curiosity about what schools like Ohio State and Kentucky have to offer was exacerbated by the recent dismissal of Al Borges.  Michigan’s former offensive coordinator worked with the talented youngster’s high school coach at Auburn, and was his most direct connection to the Maize & Blue.

“We love Coach Borges… love Coach Borges,” Ms. Harris admitted.  “He was the one who recruited Damien.  So, I am not going to sit here and say it doesn’t have anything to do with it.  I am not going to sit here and say it has everything to do with it.”

What it means is aside from seeing what else is out, building stronger relationships with the other staff members of Michigan’s staff is a major priority.  It’s one of the points Brady Hoke emphasized when he was given the news.

“He said that he understands,” Ms. Harris said of Hoke.  “He said that it happens… kids committing and then deciding that maybe they did it too early or something like that.  He says it does happen, but he just wants us to make sure that we keep an open line of communication and talk with them on a regular basis… just so that they know they are still in the front and they are still leading in this whole process.” 

Among the many bonds the Wolverines will be looking to cultivate is the one they hope to see form between Harris and the new offensive coordinator in Ann Arbor, Doug Nussmeier.

“I’ve called him a couple of times,” Ms. Harris reported.” Damien called him yesterday and talked to him.  He came in for Damien’s school last Thursday.  When I talked to him he was really impressed with Damien.  He just wants to make sure that we build a good relationship with him as well because he is new and we really don’t know him that well.  He seems like a really good guy.  It wasn’t like it was forced or he was trying to be a used car salesman or something to that effect.  So, he was really nice and I enjoyed speaking with him.  We’re going to keep an open line of communication with him as well.” 

It’s clear that the Wolverines aren’t planning much of a grace period to mourn the loss.  Fred Jackson is slated to be at Madison Southern Wednesday, and they’re aiming to get Harris back to Ann Arbor for an unofficial next month.

For more on the impact this move with have on Michigan’s recruiting board, be sure to check out the next Webblog coming later tonight.

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