Despite all the hope and hype, Damien Harris broke the hearts of Kentucky fans today by committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide. It’s been a long and determined recruitment of the nation’s top running back, but unfortunately, Kentucky doesn’t quite seem to be where they must to beat Alabama for such a high-profile player. Harris will likely join the likes of previous Kentucky greats like Shaun Alexander and Brandon Deaderick who chose The Tide and then went on to play in the NFL.We wish Damien all the best at Alabama, where he'll likely be on at least one team that contends for an CFB Playoff title.
But you have to give a big kudos to Mark Stoops & Co. for getting so high on Harris’ list. Even though Kentucky produces very few nationally coveted players, the ones they do produce have historically (recent history, anyway) been very hard to keep in-state when teams like Notre Dame, Southern Cal, and Alabama come calling. Since the reverse is often true in basketball, I think we all have a pretty good idea about how that works.
As far as backup plans go, Kentucky is still involved with Jamarius Henderson from Florida (Hat tip: NextCats ), who was heavily recruited by former Kentucky OC Neal Brown. Now that Brown is at Troy, he’s trying to woo Henderson, and Henderson is scheduled to visit the Trojans. Kentucky’s attention to Henderson could really take a ramp up now as they will likely try to get him to visit. Also, C.J. Amil out of Cardinal Moody remains a target, although he’s more of an all-purpose player than Harris. Patrick Carr and Ke’Shawn Vaughn are also possible targets now.
The good news is, for the immediate future, Kentucky is chock full of good running backs who are getting better every year. The flip side of that is that UK absolutely must get some replacements in the pipeline starting as soon as possible. You’d obviously like to make sure you have a running back in your freshman class, but there is also the JUCO route to consider. Hang in there, we’re still heading in the right direction.
Quick Twitter recap
Harris is 6th 5-star recruit (as rated by Rivals) to commit to Alabama in 2015 class. Tide has signed 13 5 stars in 3 prior recruiting years— Mark Story (@markcstory) January 9, 2015
Damien Harris picks Alabama. And so it goes. Congrats Damien, hope you have a great college career.— Oscar Combs (@wildcatnews) January 9, 2015
I joked at the time, but in hindsight mom's expression before announcement does seem like it was telling.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) January 9, 2015
Damien Harris in Bama hat. Getting a standing ovation from what surely is a lot of UK fans pic.twitter.com/DTe4vZBGzO— Steve Jones (@SteveJones_CJ) January 9, 2015
Tough to fault anybody for committing to Alabama. Especially a running back.— Justin Rowland (@RowlandRIVALS) January 9, 2015