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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
QB Harris' plan leads to meteoric rise

By Gary Laney

Brandon Harris insists he doesn't like attending football camps.

"You don't get enough reps," he said. "You get a rep, then you wait around while other quarterbacks throw. I'd much rather be throwing with my [high school] teammates. I like to make every rep count."

It's funny Harris would say that because camps have been so good to the Bossier City (La.) Parkway High 2014 quarterback. Camp performances have played no small role in why he's gone from being a relative unknown to being the fastest-rising player in the ESPN 300 who will soon choose a college out of a who's-who list of suitors.

Brandon Harris
Brandon Harris' recruitment grew exponentially at showcase camps and a school workout.
If you saw Harris in December, you saw a skinny quarterback with potential who had offers from the likes of Louisiana Tech and McNeese State, but had the potential to be so much more. Look now and you see a more physically mature player who's the No. 48 player in the ESPN 150, the nation's No. 2-ranked dual threat quarterback and a prospect who will pick from the likes of Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama and LSU when he makes his announcement July 18.

How did he come so far, so fast?

He's stuck to the plan.

Harris calls his father a "genius" and said he would follow his plan any day.

And here was the plan. After Parkway's 2012 season, schools had one year of tape to watch, considering Harris had just one year of starting under his belt. So the plan was to go to showcase camps, perform as well as possible, then use that as a lure to get schools to watch him work out during the spring.

From that, offers would come.

So far, the plan has worked well.

In his first year as starting quarterback, Harris led the Panthers to an 11-2 record and a trip to the Class 5A quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual state finalist Lake Charles Barbe and its two ESPN 150 prospects, 2013 tight end DeSean Smith (now at LSU) and 2014 wide receiver Trey Quinn.

Harris threw for more than 2,600 yards and rushed for more than 600 more for Parkway and created a buzz in the state's northwest corner. State schools offered and bigger schools were rumored to be considering it as well. Les Miles even stopped by the campus.

But for the interest to mature, Harris and his family knew they needed to verify what coaches thought they saw on film.

First he attended a Nike SPARQ combine, where he ran a 4.64 40 and showed a strong arm. Next, he impressed at the NUC camp outside Baton Rouge. Then came a series of solid performances at several Elite 11 camps.

"They're all telling me they love my arm," Harris said. "They call me dual threat, but only because I can also run some."

That part of the plan worked perfectly. When Parkway started spring practice, coaches had film and camp performances to go on. When they were asked to come by Parkway to watch Harris throw, they were more than glad to take the invitation.

Mississippi State came by and offered. So did Nebraska. Alabama. Ohio State.

Harris was all of a sudden taking calls from Les Miles and Urban Meyer. His name was getting huge.

Meanwhile, when a coach would ask him to attend their camp, he'd politely decline. If coaches liked what they saw, they could offer. If the family was going to pay for a trip, it was to visit a school that was already offering, not to try to get one to extend an offer. With the offers that were already coming it, that would not be money well spent.

By the end of spring practice in May, the offers had piled up. Harris picked seven -- Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, LSU, Ohio State, Ole Miss and Texas A&M -- he would visit in June. By the end of June, he'd whittle it down to a few finalists, then he'd pick his school July 18.

He'd do it all without attending a single school's camp.

To his credit, he's stuck to the plan. Harris eliminated Texas A&M after they accepted a commitment from fellow ESPN 150 QB Kyle Allen. (Harris said they were told the Aggies would take only one quarterback.) He has visited LSU, Alabama and Ohio State and still has Auburn, Baylor and Ole Miss on his list.

Recruiting services have noticed also. They see Harris at the showcases. The interested schools confirm what they think they see from him. All of a sudden, Harris was anything other than unknown. The camps verified the somewhat limited game tape. Then the offer sheet verified the camp performance.

Now, Harris is one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in the country.

All by sticking to the plan.