A.J. Harris made the trek to Notre Dame last weekend having experienced plenty of football environments in the South.
What the four-star junior safety from Madison, Ala., didn’t know was exactly what to expect from a program so far away from home. Notre Dame did its best to leave an impression on Harris, who made about a nine-hour drive both ways with his family.
“What caught my attention is the fans treated the recruits,” Harris said. “They love their recruits. I’ve never seen a fan base like that from any other school. And just the student section, how intense they were into the game. When they scored they would throw people up in the air.”
Harris got to campus early enough for the tours. He saw the Basilica, Golden Dome and took a long look at the football facilities — locker room, weight room, study areas.
Before kickoff he also met with running backs coach Autry Denson, who recruits Alabama.
Denson had been in touch with Harris beforehand through Twitter. He sends the 6-foot, 174-pound prospect direct messages and inspirational quotes on a regular basis.
“I met with coach Denson,” Harris said. “He was just saying that I was a baller and to keep balling. He just said to keep my phone close to me.
In terms of the game, Harris watched as Notre Dame rallied for a win against rival USC. He took note of the defensive backs and tried to soak in the environment.
“I think they played great,” Harris said. “They really looked like a good bonding defensive team. Everyone knew their assignments and even when they were losing and USC scored a touchdown, nobody would ever get down. They would just come right back.”
Harris now plans to visit Ole Miss this weekend for its game against Texas A&M. He’ll also visit Alabama next month for its game against LSU.
Alabama and Auburn have yet to offer but have been in weekly contact. Harris said he hears from Ole Miss “every day.” Cincinnati, Georgia, Purdue and Wake Forest have also been in contact.
Harris already has scholarship offers from Air Force, Florida State, Louisville, Ole Miss and Troy, among others.
“I’m just open to all recruiting,” Harris said. “Just sitting back.”