- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
With all six offers from MAC programs, it makes the recruiting process a little easier for senior athlete Heath Harding (Miamisburg, Ohio/Dayton Christian). He has an opportunity to see two teams offer on unofficial visits for games, and that is what happened Saturday when he went to Miami for its game against Ohio.
"One reason I took the visit is because I like Miami," Harding said. "It's a good opportunity to see both of them and I saw how both are on the field.
"And I like OU [Ohio] a lot. I like their coaching staff, they're real cool and the players are cool as well. You can tell they care a lot about football."
Harding got a little help from a fan at the game with ties to both sides, too.
"One guy I was talking to said he has kids who go to Miami and he graduated from OU himself," Harding said. "He said you couldn't go wrong with either program. Academically, Miami is a little more prestigious than OU."
Aside from the weather, Harding really liked his trip to Miami. It was his second visit for a game, but the one last year ended early for Harding as he made an early exit. He enjoyed the game day atmosphere, but it was the interactions with recruits and fans he enjoyed most.
Dayton-area linebacker Ja'mel Sanders is committed to Miami and was working Harding to join him.
"Miami was winning so they kept using that," Harding said. "They said if I come here this is what you can be experiencing and 'We need you to make this special and set it off.' "
Funny enough, Ohio commit Troy Mangen was texting Harding during the game trying to get in his ear about joining him in Athens.
Harding will take Mangen up on that offer, if only for a weekend. Harding will visit Ohio this coming Sunday to watch practice and "see how the coaches and players react to each other. People will tell you different things so it's good to see how they really are."
There are still no favorites for Harding, who also has offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo and Toledo. Purdue, Tennessee and Vanderbilt want to see Harding's final highlight tape as well.
With playoffs beginning this weekend in Ohio, Harding finished the regular season with 2,097 yards on 114 carries and 39 total touchdowns. He also is the school's new career record holder with exactly 5,000 career rushing yards to go along with 101 career scores.
546dTom Luginbill and Craig Haubert