"I feel it's a great opportunity to come east and play for a premier program," Harrison said. "You'd be surprised how many North Carolina fans are out here though. Me having the opportunity to go there, I mean, people would shoot me if I didn't take it."
Harrison is a well-rounded prospect who will bring a variety of skills with him on his 2,295-mile trip from the outskirts of Las Vegas to Chapel Hill. Yet, his most significant contribution might be the level of energy he brings to the Tar Heel dugout on a daily basis. His approach to the game, in his mind, is his most valuable asset.
"I just try to play the game with as much energy as possible -- try to keep the game exciting for everyone and try to be in the game on every pitch, because every pitch counts," said Harrison. "I just try to keep my game fun, have fun, and play my hardest on every pitch."
The UNC coaching staff is of the same opinion as their future infielder. "Matt plays the game with great enthusiasm," said head coach Mike Fox. "He is our first signee from the state of Nevada and we couldn't be more excited about his future as a Tar Heel."
Harrison is an ideal coach's player. He is as fundamentally sound as about any player in the country, shows tremendous toughness, and has a genuine passion for the game. A Perfect Game scout used the term "cannon" to describe Harrison's arm strength, but his motion is very compact with a quick release.
In comparison with other top high school talent, Harrison is ranked by Perfect Game as the No. 96 overall prospect and the 10th best middle infielder in the nation.
Harrison chose UNC over a few emerging West Coast programs in UCLA, UNLV, and San Diego State, as well as Vanderbilt and Virginia. So what made UNC more attractive than these other powers? "The opportunity to be part of something great," said Harrison. "It was an opportunity I just couldn't pass up. Coach Fox and the other coachers over there are some of the greatest coaches I've ever met and they made a lasting impression. The campus is also amazing. You couldn't ask for a better college town."
Harrison also admitted that being a Tar Heel fan for most of his life also played into the equation when it came to his collegiate decision. "I've had [UNC] stuff in my closet for a long time because everybody, no matter what part of the country, loves Carolina," Harrison said.
Harrison honed his skills with the ABD Bulldogs this past summer, a nationally recognized club from Southern California, with a handful of the nation's best high school players. "It was traveling all the time getting to play with the better players against the best competition," explained Harrison. "Last summer was basically the dream summer, I got to meet and see a bunch of people and I would have never had that opportunity if it hadn't been for the Bulldogs. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life."
Renowned ABD head coach Mike Spiers was as grateful to have Harrison as a part of his team. "He's a leader, he's the guy all the players follow," Spiers said. That statement shouldn't be taken lightly either, considering the Bulldogs were comprised of over 20 nationally-signed players.
"Matt is the type of player who puts all his energy into everything he does," Spiers added. "Teams don't like to play against him, he's the kind of guy you really like to have on your team. When you play against him, he has a way of rattling you."
Harrison committed to the Tar Heels on Nov. 14, immediately following a visit to Chapel Hill. He had previously visited the campus while Coach Fox was out of town.
As Harrison recalls, "I got back in on Sunday and got a call from [Coach Fox] on Tuesday and he said he really wanted to meet me. He said he would be back on Friday and I just told my dad, ‘We got to go. We've got to get on a plane and we've got to be there.' It was well worth it."
Aside from his feelings toward the university and atmosphere in Chapel Hill, the coveted shortstop is coming to UNC with one goal in mind. "I want to be part of the [team] that wins the national championship. We've gotten so close so many times and I just want to be part of the [team] that helps finish the thing off. I hope I can go there and make a lasting impression and can be a good role model for other players."
|Seth Baldwin||OF||Forest City (N.C.) East Rutherford|
|Derrik Gibson||SS/OF||Seaford (Del.) High|
|Matt Harrison||SS||Henderson (Nev.) Green Valley|
|L.J. Hoes||OF||Washington (D.C.) St. John|
|Jason Knapp||RHP||Annandale (N.J.) North Hunterdon|
|Garrison Lassiter||SS||Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth|
|Tim Melville||RHP/3B||Wentzville (Mo.) Holt|
|Jimmy Messer||RHP||Hudson (N.C.) South Caldwell|
|Quinton Miller||RHP||Medford (N.J.) Shawnee|
|Jacob Stallings||C||Nashville (Tenn.) Brentwood|
|Jeff May||C||Creedmoor (N.C.) South Granville|
|Brian Goodwin||OF||Rocky Mount (N.C.) High|
|Levi Michael||MIF||Lexington (N.C.) North Davidson|
|Chris Munnelly||RHP||Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day|