Harris among elite '13 safeties

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Does having two defensive backs coach help Tennessee with recruiting considering more individual attention at practice and games? Time will tell.

Either way, some of the top safety prospects around the country started hearing from the Volunteers months ago, including Marcell Harris.

Harris measures in at 6-foot-1, 197 pounds and already holds scholarship offers from the likes of Florida State, LSU, South Florida and Tennessee.

"I'm just looking at everyone," Harris told InsideTennessee. "If they offer me, I'll make a decision to look at them and see how everything plays out."

Tennessee wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw has been mining central Florida since he was first hired by Derek Dooley roughly two years ago. Talented players like Alton Howard, Nathan Peterman, Tom Smith and others have all signed letters of intent with the Big Orange thanks in large part to Hinshaw.

Harris admitted he's played quite a bit of phone tag with Hinshaw this winter, but he would like to check out the campus and support in Knoxville.

"I haven't been there yet," Harris said. "On the other hand, when I go up to a game or a junior day I'll see how the atmosphere is and how it builds up."

Tennessee assistant coach Darin Hinshaw has already pulled several players from central Florida.
(Danny Parker/InsideTennessee.com)
The Groveland, Fla., native clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.59 seconds with a vertical leap of 31 1/2 inches in late December. He has tremendous ball skills and above-average hand-eye coordination for a defensive back. He does, however, attack ball carriers too high in the open field.

"I'm more of a free safety," Harris said. "Following the ball, running downhill wherever it is. "When I get to college they may try to put some weight on me. I've been trying to gain some weight, but it's not working out right now."

Harris, who lurks defensively for South Lake (Fla.) High School, is teammates with Kris White, who is more of a strong safety that his also hearing from Tennessee.

"I had to get him to come to safety with me. He's been doing pretty good at our practices and drills. He's looking to be one of the top safeties with me in our class," said Harris, who noted the two don't consider themselves a package deal on the college level.

The Eagles finished the 2011 season with a record of 4-6 under coach Charles Weems, missing out on the FHSAA Class 7A state playoffs.

Harris, whose favorite player is the late Sean Taylor, was named to the Associated Press Class 7A All-State second team. But, as his parents have stressed to him, hitting the books will be of utmost importance in college.

"Academics first," he said of what he wants to see out of the school with which he signs. "My parents always stress academics first. Just a feel area-wise and just feeling like you need to be there."

The potential four-star recruit caught some games last fall on unofficial visits to Alabama and Florida State. He maintains that he is open to all schools putting an offer on the table and will make a decision when the time is right.

"I'll weigh it out a little bit. Before signing day I'll make my decision sometime," Harris said.

He has already accepted an invitation to compete in the Under Armour All-American game in January 2013.

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