Q&A: 5-star RB Damien Harris talks recruiting

 Posted by at 1:09 AM on August 23, 2014  No Responses »
Aug 232014
 
Damien Harris

Damien Harris

Madison Southern running back Damien Harris ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns in his season opener Friday night. The game was called after one half due to inclement weather. Madison Southern defeated Rockcastle County 24-7.

Harris — the No. 1 running back in the country and UK’s top target in the class of 2015 — talked afterward about his recruitment, which is down to UK, Ohio State, Florida, Alabama and Texas A&M and will end with his Dec. 13 announcement.

How have you handled the pressure and the attention you’ve received?

“It’s not hard at all. I just tend to block all of that stuff out. I know I’m only still in high school. I’m only 17 years old. I still have a team here in high school before I can start worrying about recruiting, college, all of that stuff. So I just try to stay grounded, stay humble, not let this attention get to my head. Stay focused on my teammates and keep trying to motivate them each and every day. And continue to try and be the best leader that I can possibly be.”

What is it your looking for in a school?

“Just how close I get with the coaching staff, as well as the players and the commits that are coming in. All of those things together kind of give me that great family feel. Whoever does that the best, whoever I kind of mix with, jell with and feel like I’m at home with my own family — that’s the most important part. I need to feel like these coaches are going to push me, not only as a football player, but as an individual, as a student, growing up as a young man. And I need my teammates to make me feel like I’m a brother to them. I’m not just somebody coming on to a team, but I’m coming into a brotherhood.”

There was a time when Kentucky wasn’t even in the mix. Now they’re in your top five. Why are the Wildcats in there?

“I remember when Coach Stoops came in. He came to the school and he knew I wasn’t real high on Kentucky. The first thing he told me was, ‘Just give us a chance to recruit you. Let us show that we’re going to try to turn things around and build a great team.’ So I kind of listened to him. I started going to some of the practices, meeting with some of the coaches. And it worked out for the better, because I’ve become really close with the staff. I know players like Drew Barker and Matt Elam. We were all kind of close from the get-go, so whenever they committed to Kentucky we kept the connection and friendship. So they’re doing a little bit of recruiting themselves. I just get a good feel from them now.”

Have you decided on any visits going forward?

“I’m in the process of working on it, but it’ll take a little time.”

Will you be at Kentucky next weekend for the opener?

“I haven’t decided yet. I guess we’ll see.”

Talk about your relationship with Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer.

“I’ve built a great relationship with Coach Meyer. Me and him are extremely close. We talk quite often. I just love his passion, his desire as a coach. He shows that he’s extremely enthusiastic about what he does. He cares about his players. He’s not just a football coach. He’s more like a mentor and a father figure to his players. So that’s definitely something that I enjoy. Whenever I get up on campus, he makes me feel like he’s not just trying to coach me, but he’s trying to be a part of my life. I’ve definitely grown close with him.”

Texas A&M offered right before you narrowed your list. How were they able to get in like that so late?

“I was kind of intrigued by it whenever I first started talking to their coaches. They just told me that they wanted a chance to recruit me, so I thought about it a little bit. I thought it would be an interesting place to look at. I kind of decided that they could be in my top five and I would be happy looking at them, going on official visits and all that. And trying to see if that’s the place for me.”

Why did Florida make your cut?

“I visited Florida once and really liked it. I sat down with Coach Muschamp. Loved talking to him. I got really affiliated with them extremely quick. Usually, it takes time to grow close with some of the coaches and the atmosphere. But we got pretty close in a quick amount of time. I was kind of thrown off by it, but it kind of intrigued me enough to keep them in my top five.”

What about Alabama? What kept them in there?

“I mean, it’s Alabama. You can’t deny that they have great facilities, great coaches, great players. It’s a championship dynasty that they’ve built there. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be a part of it. You just have to look at it, balance it with all of the other schools I’m looking at, and take it from there.”

You mentioned your relationship with Barker and Elam. Have those guys been talking to you since they got to campus?

“They just try to tell me how it feels to be the hometown kid going to the hometown school. Just how it feels being loved … going from high school to college, you’re still experiencing the love. They’ve just kind of been talking to me about it. How things have been on campus, how things are working with the offense, how great the coaches treat them and things like that. They’re just trying to get me to buy in to what they’re putting out.”

How much does that appeal to you — being the local guy who goes to the hometown school?

“It obviously would be a great thing to stay at home, stay close to my family and friends. But I can’t just look at Kentucky more than anybody else because it’s home. I have to put them on an even playing field with everybody else. It seems cool, but at the same time it’s not everything. I don’t have a problem going out of state, going somewhere far. That doesn’t bother me. But at the same time, it would be nice to be at home. But I can’t focus on it.”

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Aug 222014
 
Doral Moore

Doral Moore

Four-star center Doral Moore is scheduled to begin an official visit to Kentucky on Saturday.

Moore — a 7-footer from Georgia — is also listing Florida, Ohio State, Illinois and Wake Forest in his top five.

Kentucky extended a a scholarship offer to Moore earlier this month, and the class of 2015 standout hosted UK assistant coach Kenny Payne for an in-home visit in April. Moore is transferring to Montverde Academy (Fla.) for his senior season.

The national recruiting rankings vary on Moore, who is ranked No. 36 overall by ESPN and No. 75 overall by Scout.com.

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Aug 222014
 
Marcus Walker

Marcus Walker

The latest Rivals.com position rankings for the class of 2015 show that a few UK football commitments remain in prime position to pick up a fourth star by the time they get to Lexington.

In-state linebacker Eli Brown, Ohio tight end C.J. Conrad and Maryland defensive end Darius Fullwood are UK’s only four-star players in the Rivals rankings. Brown is the No. 12 outside linebacker, Conrad is the No. 9 tight end and Fullwood is the No. 17 stromngside defensive end, according to Thursday’s update.

UK commitments Alex Stump and Jabari Greenwood are two of the top four wide receivers with a three-star rating. Stump is No. 41 and Greenwood is No. 43, and both players could easily earn four-star status with solid senior seasons.

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Brandon Ingram will visit for Big Blue Madness

 Posted by at 6:03 PM on August 21, 2014  No Responses »
Aug 212014
 
Ingram

Ingram

Highly touted class of 2015 forward Brandon Ingram told reporters Thursday that he’s planning to visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness on Oct. 17.

Ingram — a 6-foot-8 prospect from Kinston, N.C. — is considered the No. 25 overall player in the class by Scout.com. He picked up an offer from Kentucky earlier this summer.

ZagsBlog’s Adam Zagoria and Scout’s Evan Daniels were among the first to report the news. Ingram is in New York City for Saturday’s Elite 24 game, which features several other top UK recruits.

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Aug 212014
 
Friday's Lexington Herald-Leader

Friday’s Lexington Herald-Leader

All eyes will be on Madison Southern running back Damien Harris this season.

Not only is Harris the early favorite for Kentucky Mr. Football honors, he’s the No. 1-ranked running back in the country and UK’s top recruiting target for the class of 2015.

Harris also made the cover of the Herald-Leader’s high school preview section, which will be in Friday’s newspaper and includes a feature story on the Madison Southern star as well as a rundown of some of the other top players in the state.

Harris is also getting his own Next Cats page, which will be updated every week with his game-by-game stats and the latest video and information on his recruitment. Check out the Damien Harris page right here, and be sure to pick up a copy of Friday’s paper for more on the UK recruit.

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Aug 212014
 
Tavin Richardson | Photo: Rivals.com

Tavin Richardson | Photo: Rivals.com

One of UK’s top football recruiting targets gets an opportunity to play on the national stage Friday night.

Three-star wide receiver Tavin Richardson and Byrnes High School (S.C.) will face Northwestern (S.C.) in the opening game of the 2014 High School Football Kickoff at 6 p.m. on ESPNU. There will be a total of 10 high school football games on ESPN networks this weekend.

Richardson — a 6-foot-3, 212-pound prospect — recently announced a top five of Kentucky, Louisville, Central Florida, Nebraska and Virginia Tech. He told the Herald-Leader earlier this month that UK is the No. 1 school on his list.

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Aug 192014
 

Highly touted running back Darrin Hall committed to Pittsburgh over Kentucky and Michigan State on Tuesday.

Hall — a four-star prospect in the class of 2015 — was widely expected to pick Pitt after announcing Monday that he had reached a college decision. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 168 overall prospect in the class.

The 5-foot-11 recruit is from Youngstown, Ohio, the hometown of UK Coach Mark Stoops and recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow.

UK’s top target at running back remains Madison Southern standout Damien Harris, who is considered the nation’s best player at the position. Harris will announce his college decision Dec. 13 and is also considering Ohio State, Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M.

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Aug 192014
 
Eli Brown

Eli Brown

Rivals.com unveiled its new Rivals 250 rankings Tuesday, and Warren East linebacker Eli Brown remains the only UK commitment on the list.

Brown, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound prospect, is considered the No. 136 overall recruit for the class of 2015. He committed to Kentucky in April and told the Bowling Green Daily News this week that he plans to redshirt during his first season with the Wildcats.

Stanley “Boom” Williams and Drew Barker are the only UK signees under Coach Mark Stoops who have been ranked higher by Rivals.com. Williams (No. 118) and Barker (No. 132) were both in the class of 2014.

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Aug 182014
 

UK football recruiting target Nathan Gilliam announced his commitment to Wake Forest on Monday night.

The three-star offensive lineman from Knoxville, Tenn., had listed Wake Forest, Kentucky and Ole Miss as his favorites in recent days. Ole Miss had not yet offered.

UK became more of a possibility following last week’s decommitment of four-star center Luke Hiers, who did not receive a written scholarship offer from the Wildcats. Kentucky has five solid commitments from offensive linemen in the class of 2015.

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Aug 182014
 
UK quarterback Patrick Towles Photo: Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader

UK quarterback Patrick Towles
Photo: Charles Bertram/Herald-Leader

All of the buzz around UK football Monday was, of course, related to Patrick Towles being named the Wildcats’ starting quarterback.

But it was also the fourth (and final) open practice of the fall.

Some observations:

Towles obviously got a lion’s share of the reps in Monday’s practice. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown estimated that Towles got 90 percent of the time with the first team. UK’s new starting quarterback threw a beautiful pass to Demarco Robinson early in the practice. He hit Robinson in stride running down the sideline while being well defended about 20-25 yards downfield. Towles followed that up with another nice downfield pass to Rashad Cunningham, who also made the catch with a UK defender all over him.

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