Elite junior visits Vanderbilt

Princeton Harlan took the reigns at quarterback at Mt. Pleasant High School just four games into his freshman season. Harlan, who recently completed his junior season, is quickly becoming one of the better known prospects in the state of Tennessee. Despite playing in the 2A classification, major colleges know his name and have been showing a lot of interest.

"I've been hearing from Kentucky, Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Georgia Tech, Duke, Auburn, and Vanderbilt," said Princeton Harlan. "I've taken one unofficial to Auburn for a game and two unofficial visits to Vanderbilt."

Harlan, 6-foot-5, 188-pounds, can beat you both with his arm and with his legs as evidenced in last year's playoff game against White House-Heritage. Harlan rushed for 120 yards in that game and scored four rushing touchdowns while throwing for 153 yards.

"At first I was having trouble in the passing game," said Harlan, who has added more than 30 pounds to his frame since freshman season. "Hitting the weights and throwing a lot of balls has greatly increased my arm strength. Now instead of being a running quarterback, I look to pass first, but still have the ability to get away from pressure with my feet."

Harlan broke the school record in passing yards as a sophomore and broke his own record this year. The Tigers, however, didn't have a very good year, finishing 4-6 after a 8-4 season in 2010.

"We were young this year," Harlan said. "We had a lot of inexperienced receivers. I kept hitting them in the numbers, but they had a lot of trouble bringing it in especially in the last half of the season. Plus I missed three games due to an ankle injury. We'll be more mature next year on both sides of the ball."

Harlan made two trips to Nashville during the season to see the Commodores play in games they won. He enjoyed what he saw from the team as well as the first year coaching staff.

"I do like Vandy," said Harlan. "I was at the Connecticut game in September then went back for the Kentucky game. The field they play on is very nice. All of the fans were friendly to me. The coaches I liked right away. They're a bunch of high-energy guys. If you go to Vanderbilt you know you're going to get a good education."

Harlan started at wide receiver as a freshman before being moved over to quarterback. Some coaches may see Harlan as a big, rangy possession receiver, but his goal is to become a signal caller at the next level.

"This was my third year [at quarterback], and I think I'm doing a good job of seeing what defense is coming and checking off at the line," said Harlan. "In college I'd like to go to a spread offense, but I feel I can run any offense effectively as long as they let me use my feet."

Harlan plans to attend "a bunch" of camps this next summer including the Manning Passing Academy to hone his quarterback skills. He's hoping polishing his game will lead to a big senior season for Mt. Pleasant.

"My goal next year is to pass for more than 1,500 yards and rush for more than 1,000," Harlan said. "Most importantly, I just want to win."

Harlan is playing varsity basketball for Mt. Pleasant during the winter months. He averaged 16 points-per-game last season for Tiger basketball. It's easy to find him on the football field wearing jersey No. 1.

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