Damien Harris is the highest ranked football prospect Kentucky has produced since the recruiting services began roughly a decade ago. Tim Couch and Dennis Johnson were both USA Today POY, and would likely be five star recruits by today's measurements. Micah Johnson was rated as high as the Top 40 by one service, and last year saw Matt Elam climb to the Top 15 by 247 Sports. However, Harris is a consensus Top 10 prospect, whom many regard as the best running back in the country. A commitment to Kentucky would further signal Mark Stoops and his staff's recruiting prowess.
UK was considered a long shot to land Harris as little as a year ago when he committed to Michigan. Since then, Neal Brown, Chad Scott, and Mark Stoops have continued to put in the work. Could their hard work have begun to pay off? A series of events this week can be read in a positive light for Kentucky. Commence baseless speculation.
The Courier-Journal's Steve Jones recently conducted an interview with Harris. I encourage you to read it. Here are a few quotes that stood out to me:
...But [Harris] said [UK] are recruiting him harder than any other team and have coaches and players he likes.
Improvement would obviously be nice, but at the same time — and this is a big shock (to) people — wins and losses next year aren't going to determine whether I go to UK or not, Harris told The Courier-Journal this week. If they win 10 games, that'll sit the same way with me as if they win four or five.
Harris is saying that progress on the field is what he's looking for, but that doesn't necessarily have to be reflected in wins. Well, UK will most likely be improved this season. His outlook negates the primary negative recruiting talking point deployed against UK.
Another recent development is the news that the second best running back in the country, Jacques Patrick, will make an official visit to Ohio State in September as a part of huge recruiting weekend for tOSU. This won't be his first visit to Columbus. Ohio State is considered by many to be UK's toughest competition for Harris. Urban Meyer and his staff have done a lot to make sure Harris knew they want him. Famously, Meyer even escorted Harris to courtside seats at a basketball game last winter.
Is the visit by Patrick tOSU hedging their bets a little? Patrick will be a tough recruit to pry away from Florida State and Alabama, but in any case how does Harris interpret his visit? Seriously, I want to know.
Additionally, another highly rated running back committed elsewhere this week. His name is Darrin Hall from Youngstown, OH. The four star back committed to Pitt. I find it hard to believe given the success Stoops and Marrow have had in Ohio that they would lose out on a prospect to Pitt, especially one from Stoops' hometown.
Did UK pass on Hall because they wanted to stay in the good graces of Harris? Seriously, I want to know.
Now I'm Really Reaching
Finally, it sounds less and less like any of UK's current running backs will redshirt this season. Any running back who signs with UK in the 2015 class could have an entire class, and its future carries, all to himself. That might be appealing to a highly ranked running back who wants to enroll early.