SAN ANTONIO – Things are getting weird in Texas. I’m not talking about the weird amount of real-life cowboys I’ve come across this week. I’m talking about the never-ending roller coaster ride that has been the Najee Harris recruitment.
The 247Sports composite No. 1 player nationally, 5-star RB Harris (Antioch, Calif.) has been the focus of the weirdest recruitment I can recall since I began paying attention to recruiting four years ago.
On Monday, it was a toss-up between Alabama – the school he’s committed to – and Michigan.
On Tuesday, he told Land of 10 that he wouldn’t announce a decision, and instead would just show up at the school where he decides to enroll.
On Wednesday, Alabama QB commit Tua Tagovailoa said that he and Harris have the same flight to Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Sunday. Then, we, among others, questioned this because of the lack of proof.
On Thursday morning, 247Sports reported that Harris had a flight to Oakland to go back home and talk with his mom before deciding. Later that afternoon, just one hour after the final media availability session, Barton Simmons of 247Sports reported that Harris has a flight booked to Birmingham, Ala. – effectively ending the recruitment.
Let’s get back to where we started this week: Michigan was getting more picks than Alabama as Harris’ destination. Now, the Tide, because of this report, have returned as the favorite.
I am not friends with Najee Harris. I have had about six conversations with him, none being productive in helping me dissect his decision, but I know how some recruits interact with media. Especially the ones who dislike the media, like Harris. Anything to get the media off their back is a good thing.
But for this crazy, long recruitment to just end like this – it doesn’t add up. For someone to leak this information with as sealed as Harris has kept it, it doesn’t validate what this recruitment has always been.
The only person outside of Harris who may know is his mom. And, yes, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl gives these recruits one free flight from San Antonio to wherever they want to go. And when Harris tells them where he needs to go, they leak it? That’s not going to make Harris happy just two days before he plays in their All-American game.
So, do I find Barton Simmons credible? Absolutely, 100 percent. He’s as good as it gets in this business, and I think he reported what he was told.
But not everything in this business always turns out true, or finished. Things change in recruiting – a lot.
The first story I ever “broke” was when a recruit told me he was a silent commit to Michigan, meaning he had committed to the staff behind the scenes. And then he went to Cal.
Kids say things. And people pass things along that kids say that don’t always turn out to be true.
Harris has said a lot of things. But, you know what he has never said? He’s never straight up said: “I’m going to Alabama.”
At least he hasn’t said that since he began considering Michigan.
So, it leads me to this conclusion as we approach the final stages of Harris’ recruitment: We just don’t know. No one does.
Harris might not even know yet.
What we do know is that Michigan’s staff is confident it has him. We also know that Alabama has the same confidence. We know that Harris loves Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh and wants to play for him. But we also know that he wants to play at the highest level, and his first day on campus at Alabama could involve watching his team win a national championship for the second straight season.
All we know is that we simply don’t know what’s going to happen in the end.
Check every message board, check every Facebook status, check Twitter, check all of it: People have an idea or prediction, but none of us know.
I know that Michigan has put all of its eggs in one basket. It passed on Eno Benjamin, an electrifying 4-star RB from Texas, to focus on Harris. It let 4-star A.J. Dillon walk to Boston College without much of a fight, letting Harris know that he is the top priority.
The full-court press is on Harris, even more so than it was on Rashan Gary at this point. Michigan has done all it can do, and then some, to land this California superstar.
Until I hear differently from my side of things, and until I get a concrete answer from my sources, I must stick with what I have gone with this week: Michigan.
It may very well be Alabama come Sunday (or Monday, again, we don’t know), but don’t think this is over for a second. If this whole flight request to Birmingham story is true, I just changed my flight from San Antonio to Detroit, so don’t think Harris can’t change his.