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Wednesday, June 12, 2013
After Kizer pledge, Harris sticks with plan

By Gary Laney

Brandon Harris
With two of the team's other QB targets off the board, LSU's pursuit of Brandon Harris becomes even more important.
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Mason Rudolph (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) once looked like he might be LSU's quarterback recruit for the 2014 class.

Then there was a cooling from one side or the other and last week Rudolph committed to Oklahoma State.

By then, DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic) seemed like the hot name anyway. LSU would get him, many thought. It was just a matter of getting him to campus for a visit.

Before that could happen, a favorite closer to home, Notre Dame, offered and on Tuesday, three days before Kizer was to visit Baton Rouge, he pledged to the Irish.

And then, there was one.

Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway), one of three four-star quarterbacks who have been part of the LSU 2014 quarterback recruiting conversation in recent months, is now the last of the three still out for the taking.

Did Tuesday's news change his outlook on the process?

"Not really," Harris said. "I still love LSU."

But he's also impressed by Ohio State -- a school Kizer had hoped for an offer from, but never got -- along with Alabama and Auburn.

He has visited LSU, Alabama and Ohio State and said he he will visit Auburn, Baylor and Ole Miss by the end of the month (though not this week, he said). He's sticking with the the plan he laid out in May when he announced seven schools he planned on visiting: Visit each school by the end of June, use the first two-plus weeks of July to concentrate on the strongest candidates, then pick one on July 18.

"That's still the plan," he said.

Harris met Kizer on the recruiting circuit and had nothing but good things to say about him after he made his commitment.

"An absolutely fantastic guy," Harris said. "One of the best human beings I have ever met. When he walks on Notre Dame's campus, he'll make them better, I truly believe it."

None of that changes his outlook. He said it is a "great year to be a quarterback" prospect given the schools he likes and the opportunities they potentially present to him. He loves the development of A.J. McCarron at Alabama under Nick Saban, of Zack Mettenberger at LSU under Les Miles, of Braxton Miller (who he said will win the Heisman Trophy this year) at Ohio State under Urban Meyer and Cam Newton at Auburn under Gus Malzahn (who was offensive coordinator when Newton won there). Those four schools, he said, stand out to him.

The key, he said, is none of those quarterbacks will likely be at their schools when he starts his own college career (he's assuming an early departure to the NFL for Miller) and it's been expressed to him at each stop that they are not adverse to the idea of a true freshman competing for immediate playing time.

Kizer's commitment, Harris said, changed none of that.

So don't necessarily expect Kizer's decision leading to an earlier decision for Harris, he insists.

Do, however, expect LSU to continue to look at other 2014 quarterbacks. Louisiana prospect Quentin Gibson (Marred La./Archbishop Shaw) and Californian Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif/Oaks Christian) both worked out at LSU's June camp and could get more intense looks.

And don't forget some names that have popped up in the past, like Donovan Isom (Destrehan, La./Destrehan), the only Louisiana quarterback who attended LSU's first junior day, Jeremy Jones (San Antonio/East Central) who has visited LSU's campus a couple of times or Randall Cunningham II (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), who has an LSU offer.

But right now, the focus is on Harris and if one is looking for a reason for LSU optimism, consider this:

LSU's July camp, which Harris said he might attend, is July 14-17. It ends the day before Harris is set to make his announcement.

Could it be that Harris set it up where he'll commit after the camp?

No, he insists. It's just a date he and his father picked that allowed for the recruiting process to play out. It gave time for visits and gives him time to refocus afterwards on Parkway's season.

LSU is hoping the date that is significant to Harris becomes significant to the Tigers, too.