Harris Hopes to Forge New Bonds at Michigan

Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern RB Damien Harris' connection with Michigan was dealt a serious blow with the firing of former offensive coordinator Al Borges. Even so, his childhood love for the Maize & Blue didn't totally die. After reopening his recruitment the former Wolverine pledge is focused both on looking at other schools and seeing if that old feeling he had about Michigan is still there.

INDIANAPOLIS – Damien Harris’ recruitment is a hot topic in Ann Arbor these days.  The one-time Michigan pledge rescinded his commitment last month, and while the Wolverines are certainly still in heavy pursuit of his services, the four-star running back said he is still trying to get to know newly hired offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

“I have talked with coach Hoke a couple times and I am just trying to keep that connection I had with them in the first place,” the Madison (Ky.) Southern product said. “You know, without Coach Borges being there it’s kind of hard. Granted, coach (Nussmeier) is a great coach and I really like him.  It’s kind of hard going to a school without the person who recruited you. But I am really trying to develop that relationship with coach Nussmeier being the new (offensive coordinator).  I am just giving him a shot and trying to develop that relationship I had with Coach Borges.”

Granted, Borges was Harris’ main recruiter, but Nussmeier’s message to Harris is simple: he just wants a chance.

“He is just telling me that I wouldn’t have felt the way I felt at Michigan for no reason,” recalled Harris. “Coach Borges being fired wasn’t the only reason I opened my options back up, he just tries to preach to me that there is still going to be something there and just to give him a chance to develop a relationship with him. That’s all he wants is for me to give him a chance and not go in with a narrow mind and think because he is new, that I don’t know him I shouldn’t want to go to the program. He just told me to give him a chance and see where we can’t take things and see where we can develop our relationship.”

Harris is scheduled to visit Michigan next Sunday for junior day, and will be checking out the campus for the first time since he decommitted.  The four-star prospect hopes to find a lot of the same values he saw during previous trips to Ann Arbor.

“I am looking for that same family feel that I got from them the first time that really caught my attention,” Harris said. “Going up there the first time, Coach Hoke brought me in his office and me and my family just sat down and had a long conversation. We talked about things that would take place and how they would treat me as a player (and) as a teammate with all the other teammates. They just really emphasized family feelings and developing this great family connection with them. I am just looking for that same thing. Hopefully things won’t be different.  Hopefully things will all be the same – so it will give me a reason to keep looking at them the way I did in the beginning.”

At the U.S Army All-American combine in San Antonio last year Harris said his mother had a strong feeling towards the Maize & Blue. However, since he reopened his recruitment she has been supportive of his decision to look around again for the best fit. 

“It’s a tough process for her being a mom,” Harris said. “It’s just as stressful on her as it is on me. She is going to accept whatever decision I make. And I am really happy for that. She is just trying to look over what schools will look over me the best. Who will guide me the best, develop me the best as a person just as much as a player. Who can she trust to give her son off to and trust that they will be a parent figure to them? Not just let me get away with whatever they want. They will be hard on me.  They will be strict. They will set guidelines and rules that I will have to abide by. Just try to keep me grounded. Just keep me on the path to success.”

Michigan is recruiting other notable running backs, including Detroit Cass Tech four-star Mike Weber, but the thought of another running back in the class for Harris is not a deterrent. 

“That is not something that matters to me,” Harris stated. “I don’t mind competing for a spot.  Competition only makes you better. So that doesn’t really affect me. If they take another back, I think that will be a good move for them. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have two great backs in one class? We can share reps.  It’s really not a factor that I look at.”

As far as a decision timeline, Harris says the second time around he will not be making a rash decision.  His due diligence will involve taking as many visits as possible. Next up after visiting Michigan this weekend will be a March 1st trip to Alabama.  He has already taken visits this month to Ohio State and Kentucky.

“There is no point in rushing my decision anymore than I have to,” Harris said. “I already made my decision once and backed out of it. I don’t want to make that decision again and try to handle going through that till National Signing Day. I just want to wait as long as possible, so I feel I used all my time and didn’t rush my decision.”

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