BUFORD, Ga. --- No matter what happens, North Carolina will hold a special spot in John Harris's heart.
"I've always recognized that they were my first offer and they were the first school to take a chance on me," Harris said. "I always keep that in the back of my mind when other schools offer me. I always remember [UNC] was the first one, because that's pretty special."
Since UNC offered last June, over a dozen schools have tendered Harris, a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman from Hoschton (Ga.) Mill Creek. Being first has helped provide the Tar Heels with staying power.
"Louisville is up there, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech -- those three are at the top right now," Harris said. "I love North Carolina, because I like their coaches a lot and I love the environment of Chapel Hill. Louisville [I like] because they kind of have a bit of a swagger to them from last year. And then [I like] Virginia Tech because I have a great relationship with the coaches there."
Prior to the June camp that resulted in his first offer, Harris attended a junior day at UNC. He then returned in August for a preseason practice and again for the Heels' victory over Pittsburgh. However, he hasn't visited Chapel Hill this offseason.
"I definitely want to see them when they come down in the spring, because I haven't seen them in a while," Harris said. "Coach 'Kap' [Chris Kapilovic] is supposed to come by and watch one of my spring practices."
Harris has, though, visited Auburn, Vanderbilt, and Virginia this offseason.
"I think after spring practice I'll have a better idea of where I want to visit this summer," Harris said.
Harris says that Kapilovic, UNC's offensive line coach, has remained in regular contact. Much of their recent conversations has centered around Harris moving to center in college.
"I've been working this offseason a lot on center, because that's what a lot of schools are recruiting me as -- center/guard," Harris said.
For Mill Creek, which went undefeated in Georgia's highest classification until meeting eventual champion Loganville (Ga.) Grayson in the playoff semifinals, Harris starts at left tackle.
"I love tackle, but I play better when I'm in the inside, like center/guard because I played center/guard my freshman and sophomore year and I did really well," Harris said.