Christian Harris update

The first commitment of Derek Dooley's first full recruiting class at Tennessee won't be changing his mind. He won't get the chance.

Christian Harris, a linebacker prospect from Etowah High of Woodstock, Ga., is having no contact with rival recruiters these days. Etowah High head coach Phil Stewart is seeing to that.

"All the schools that used to come after me," Harris said, "Coach Stewart turns them down because I'm committed to Tennessee."

Harris is happily committed to a program that he believes is going to surprise some people this fall.

"I talked to Coach Dooley, and he seems like a great guy," the prospect said by phone from Woodstock. "He seems to have everything under control and I think he's going to have a great season this year."

Most folks aren't projecting a "great season" for the 2010 Vols but Harris believes Dooley & Company have things headed in the right direction.

"I know he's changed a lot of stuff," the prospect said, "but the coaching staff seems really confident, and I love the linebackers coach, Lance Thompson."

One thing he likes about Thompson is that he reminds him of his current coach.

"He's a lot like my high school coach, Phil Stewart, who has been a tremendous influence on me," Harris said. "Coach Stewart came here about five years ago and completely turned the football program around. It used to be horrible but he's turned everything around. We actually went to the playoffs the first year he came here."

Tennessee's talent and depth are a little low right now but Harris is convinced that is changing.

"I know they're going to be recruiting the right people," he said. "They're great coaches. I'm really excited to get up there and see what all they're going to have me doing - as far as workouts, technique and stuff."

Like most linebackers, Harris relishes the physical nature of the position.

"I love it because you defend run and pass," he said. "There's a lot of getting off blocks and hitting. Most of the time when you make a play it's going to be a big play - a difficult play - so you feel really good about yourself. I love taking on leads and hitting."

Asked to describe his style of play, Harris replied: "I get my read and I get downhill to the ball. If there's a blocker in my way, I'm going to take on that block and then find the ball. Mostly I'm working to do my job for my defense. I'm definitely a hard hitter."

Oddly enough, there hasn't been much vacation in his summer vacation. In fact, Harris has stayed really busy since the school year ended.

"We have three-hour workouts Monday through Friday from 8 to about 11," he said. "We work out for hour and a half, then run for an hour and a half."

He and his teammates attended a helmets-and-shoulder pads camp at the University of Central Florida. They also went to Clemson and North Gwinnett High for 7-on-7 competitions, along with a Fellowship of Christian Athletes camp.

That's not all, though.

"Usually on Saturdays I try to get some extra lifts in and maybe run the (blocking) sled," he said. "It depends on how hard of a week we've had."

In addition, Harris and his teammates help with youth football camps for youngsters ages 8 through 12.

You wonder: Has he done anything fun this summer?

"We had one dead week - the week of July 4," he said, "and I went to Virginia, where my family is."

Honoring commitments runs in his family. His brother, a 2010 Wake Forest baseball signee, was drafted by the Minnesota Twins earlier this summer.

"That was cool," Christian said. "But he was taken in like the 50th round and he's still going to Wake Forest."

Harris is eager to play his senior season of high school ball. He's relieved to have the recruiting pressures behind him.

"It feels great," he said. "All I have to work on now is to get better for Tennessee and prove I can play for them. I'm looking forward to getting up there and playing D-1 football. That's always been my dream."

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